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AI programmes that use your voice to produce songs breach portrait rights

AI programmes such as Suno and Udio allow the user to compose songs that bear an uncanny resemblance to the style and vocals of famous artists. Can artists do anything about this?

While Udio hasn’t said how these songs are produced, it does promise to respect artists’ rights
(Het Parool, in Dutch). It claims that it doesn’t copy voices directly and that it does protect copyright. But as Amsterdam-based daily newspaper Het Parool reports, it’s become a reality that the internet is overflowing with songs that feature voices and melodies that have been directly copied.

Artists are extremely worried about this, and Dirk Visser, Professor of Intellectual Property Law, says they’re right to be: ‘Using AI to mimic an artist’s style is unlawful’. He goes on to explain that a person’s voice counts as personal data, which is therefore protected through a mechanism similar to portrait rights (Het Parool). Visser continues, ‘That means you’re entitled to object to your voice being deliberately copied.’

In reality, this is difficult, as the programmes are not transparent about how they source their material. BumaStemra, a collective management organisation that safeguards the interests composers, lyricists and music publishers in the Netherlands when it comes to music copyright law, advocates a balance between ‘fair remuneration for the use of music on the one hand and the success of AI providers on the other’. In Het Parool, Professor Visser highlights that artists need to find a way to embrace this technology.

More information

Read the full interview in Het Parool (in Dutch, €).

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