Artificial Intelligence’s Impact on the SCL
Today, the president of the Society of Composers and Lyricists, Ashley Irwin, testified on behalf of the SCL before the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet of the House Committee of the Judiciary (HCJ) Hearing on Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property: Part I — Interoperability of AI and Copyright Law.
The hearing examined the intersection of generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology and copyright law. Among the topics addressed were the use of copyright-protected works in the training of generative AI models, copyright protection of works that were produced with the assistance of generative AI, and the economic impact of generative AI on creators and creative industries.
Irwin was invited to participate in the hearing because of the legislative solutions the SCL has offered so far considering the ongoing conversation about Artificial Intelligence and music.
Irwin’s testimony is as follows:
“Chairman Issa, Ranking Member Johnson, distinguished members of this Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today on the important issues involving artificial intelligence and the impact on the creative industries. My name is Ashley Irwin, and I am currently serving my 6th term as the President of the Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL). I am here today to advocate for my members, who are already feeling the negative impact of generative artificial intelligence (AI) on their craft and its potential threat to their profession.”
“First, some background on me, and on the SCL.”
Ashley Irwin Background - “In my forty-plus years as a composer and arranger, I have written music for over 1,000 hours of film and television, and more than 3,000 commercials. Since 1990, I have provided musical compositions and arrangements for 23 Academy Awards shows and been part of several Emmy-winning teams. I have had the pleasure of collaborating on many films with Oscar winners such as Clint Eastwood and Bill Conti. Over the years, my arrangements have been performed on numerous occasions for Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, and one of my choral orchestrations of was performed during President Ronald Reagan’s state funeral service.”
The SCL Background - “The Society of Composers & Lyricists is the premier U.S. organization for music creators working in all forms of visual media. With chapters in Los Angeles, New York and Nashville, the SCL operates as the primary voice for over 3,000 members who work as creators of scores and songs for film, television, video games, and theatre.”
The SCL’s Thoughts on Generative AI - “While the SCL advocates for our members on several different fronts, the issue that has consumed the majority of our time recently has been generative AI. The rapid introduction of generative AI systems is seen as an existential threat to the livelihood and continuance of our creative professions, unless immediate steps are taken on legal, interpretive, and economic fronts to address these emerging issues.”
“I want to be very clear, my goal in raising issues pertaining to the rights of writers and creators is not to block AI research and usage. We are simply advocating for the creation of a policy framework that ensures generative AI is developed and utilized responsibly, ethically, and with respect for human creators and copyright, so that the creative arts – that are the real engine of generative AI - can continue to flourish.”
“The SCL believes that AI companies, and their generative models, should adhere to the fundamental “Three Cs”: Consent, Credit, and Compensation:
1. Consent, by creators for the use of their works in generative AI media,
2. Credit, wherever audiovisual creators’ works are used, and
3. Compensation, at fair market rates, for the ingestion of any portion of human creators’ copyrighted works by AI generative machines and the subsequent output of new derivative works.”
“I’d like to spend the rest of my time discussing three challenges posed to music creators by generative AI – potential solutions to which I have offered in my written testimony:
Issue #1: Generative AI has been equipped using copyright-protected human-authored works and programmed to mimic those works without consent, compensation, or credit.
Issue #2: Copyright information (metadata) has been removed during the ingestion process of these models.
Issue #3: The market will be diluted due to AI generated works and as a result, copyright protection should not be granted to AI-generated works.”
“In closing, I thought I should address why America’s success important to me? As you can, no doubt, tell by my accent, I am not originally from the United States. I came here from Australia as a young man because I wanted to be a part of the vibrant culture that is the U.S. entertainment industry. However, the rise of generative AI poses a threat to this unique American artform. If we do not protect and nurture our human creators, we risk losing one of our greatest exports and its profound influence. It is essential to prioritize policies and regulations that safeguard the intellectual property and copyright of creators and preserve the diverse and dynamic U.S. cultural landscape.”
“The protection of creators is not now, nor has ever been, in conflict with technological development. Our founding fathers recognized that. The only place the term “right” is mentioned in the Constitution is with regards to intellectual property. Specifically, the rights granted to authors and inventors in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 are “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts”. Respect for copyright and development of AI should go hand-in-hand. That way, all of humanity can benefit.”
“I believe this committee has the power, authority, and motivation to lead the charge, and I look forward to working with each and every one of you to achieve that common goal.”
The Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL) is a non-profit and primary organization for professional film, television, video game, and musical theater composers and lyricists, and those working in our industry such as orchestrators, arrangers, music supervisors, music agents, music attorneys, music editors, copyists, recording engineers, and related jobs, with a distinguished, nearly 77-year history in the fine art of creating music for visual media.
Current SCL Members include the top creative professionals whose experience and expertise are focused on many of the creative, technological, legal, newsworthy and pressing issues of the film music, television music, game music, and musical theatre industry today.