If you’re not impressed enough by IBM Watson’s ability to create movie trailers, diagnosing leukemia, and even understanding your emotion, there’s more. Now it’s moving on to music with Watson Beat, an AI-powered music composing app. It’s a great tool for the artist who wants to compose unique music. However, being on its early stage, Watson Beat has already created controversy about a very important thing – who owns the copyright of that music?
How does this music generator work?
“Essentially you take monophonic melody input and pick a genre and Watson Beat will generate composition after composition after composition until it’s a non-deterministic model – so everything is always unique,” said Elizabeth Transier, IBM THINKLab Director while explaining the functionality of Watson Beat at the panel at Amsterdam Dance Event’s Tech conference.
Credit goes to Janani Mukandan and Richard Daskas, two IBM researchers who made this thing possible by developing the ‘cognitive technology.’ This AI-powered app learned the variation and characteristics of music theories and music keys to generate songs that are completely original with different styles and moods.
Who owns the music?
When it comes to generating music, it’s a big concern to have the copyright for the creator. Then who will have the copyright of the music created by some machine? Well, guests from that panel gave some explanations, but none of them were solid.
“I have some pretty strong opinions about copyright, but, I’m not a lawyer,” explained Transier. “I actually don’t think a machine can own a copyright. I think it’s the person who sees that spark and takes it and creates something with it. I think that’s the owner. But that’s not an IBM statement.”
However, for Bjorn Schipper, an entertainment lawyer who was also on that panel it’s quite difficult to give any conclusive answer as music composed by artificial intelligence is a completely new area.
“According to European copyright law, [a creation] must be the own intellectual creation of ‘the author’ and in the law it says [the author] must be a human being these days,” said Schipper while explaining the issue of music copyright from the current legal standards. “So without human intervention, it’s hard to say if there will be copyright protection.”
“A lot of artists create music and come to us and say “Here’s my new track,” but, if they start to use more AI instruments, it might be wise to record the actual recording of the music and the creative process more to show that it’s actually them,” said Meindert Kennis, the Lead Digital Strategist and CMO of Spinnin’ Records who was also a part of that panel.
Agreeing with him, Schipper added, “I always advise creative clients, the key is design history, where you can prove, if necessary, inside or outside the courtroom, that on a certain date you created this kind of work.”
However, it’s not the right time to determine if the AI-driven music industry will have any effect on copyright legislation as Watson Beat is still in its early stages. For the time being, musicians who are using AI to compose their music can take advice from the experts about the copyright.