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YouTube is figuring out its AI strategy by working with music labels

YouTube is figuring out its AI strategy by working with music labels


It wants to protect copyright while also exploring how to use generative AI.

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YouTube copyright takedown

YouTube is partnering with record labels to establish rules for how AI-generated music is treated on its platform, including monetization opportunities for both companies and creators.

The platform said in a blog post it would invest in building its rights management system Content ID, update its policies on uploading manipulated content, and deploy generative AI tools to help detect videos that violate its rules. 

“Generative AI systems may amplify current challenges like trademark and copyright abuse, misinformation, spam, and more,” YouTube CEO Neal Mohan said. “But AI can also be used to identify this sort of content, and we’ll continue to invest in the AI-powered technology that helps us protect our community of viewers, creators, artists and songwriters.”

YouTube hasn’t announced any details yet on what these new investments will be other than promising to balance rights protection with creator-led innovation, including figuring out ways to monetize AI-generated content.

Part of YouTube’s plan is a partnership with Universal Music Group (UMG) — one of the largest record labels in the world — to create an AI music incubator, essentially a group of musicians who will “help gather insights on generative AI experiments and research” on the platform. These artists include Anitta, Juanes, OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, the estate of Frank Sinatra, producer Rodney Jerkins aka Darkchild, and composer Max Richter, among others. All these artists have contracts with UMG. 

“Central to our collective vision is taking steps to build a safe, responsible, and profitable ecosystem of music and video — one where artists and songwriters have the ability to maintain their creative integrity, their power to choose, and to be compensated fairly,” said UMG chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge in a separate statement.

YouTube has a long history of hosting AI-generated content, be it covers or wholly “original” music

An AI-generated song, “Heart On My Sleeve,” went viral on Tiktok in April, featuring vocals by what sounded like Drake and The Weeknd. It soon made its way to streaming services, including YouTube. UMG, Drake’s music label, issued a strongly worded statement saying AI-generated songs violate copyright laws. The song was eventually taken down from YouTube. 

Rights around AI-generated content remain unclear after a DC district court judge ruled art created by AI cannot be copyrighted

The Financial Times also reported that UMG and Google, YouTube’s parent company, are in talks to license artists’ voices and melodies to train AI models.