Google and Universal Music in talks over AI “deepfake” royalties

It comes as ‘deepfake’ AI music has skyrocketed in prominence online.

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Google and Universal Music Group are currently in talks over licensing issues that surround ‘deepfake’ AI music.

Both companies are hoping to create a partnership through which deepfakes can be shared, with royalties going to Universal, the Financial Times reported.

For this to work, the companies would need to license the voices of artists, as well as songs, which would allow people to legally use them to make AI tracks.

The ideal end goal is to make a platform on which music fans can create AI music and pay the copyright owners, with artists entitled to opt in or out as they wish.

Earlier in 2023, Universal urged streaming platforms to block AI companies from getting access to music from its artist’s back catalogues, saying that it was aware that some AI services had been trained on music protected under copyright law.

Meanwhile, Warner Music is also reportedly in talks with Google, with chief executive Robert Kyncl telling investors that fans could “pay their heroes the ultimate compliment” through AI, with the “right framework” in place.

This year in particular, deepfake AI music has been exploding online. Heart on My Sleeve, a track featuring AI-trained vocals from Drake and The Weeknd, went viral with 15 million views on TikTok in under 48 hours recently, and Drake has been among the critics of deepfake AI music.

Universal Music Group represents both Drake and The Weeknd, and at the time emailed the parties concerned. It said it “will not hesitate to take steps to protect our rights and those of our artists”, and the song was then taken down from platforms like Spotify and YouTube.


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