Songwriters Head to Congress to Set AI Rules

A group of songwriters and composers will go to Congress on Thursday (September 21) to discuss the protection of music creators’ rights around the recent expansion of artificial intelligence (AI).

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Hit songwriting and production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige), Jermaine Dupri (Mariah Carey, Usher), Matthew West, and Cirkut—who co-wrote Katy Perry‘s No. 1 hit “Roar”—are some of the songwriters meeting with elected officials on Capitol Hill for the annual American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) Stand with Songwriters Advocacy Day.

ASCAP chairman of the board and president Paul Williams, along with board members Desmond Child, Bob Bruderman, Jimmy Webb, Marti Cuevas, Sharon Farber, Dan Foliart, Ree Guyer, James M. Kendrick, Evan Lamberg, Michelle Lewis, Alex Shapiro, and Jonathan Singer, will also join the group of advocates on Capital Hill.

“True music comes from deep within our souls; it’s human-first, heart songs, revealing and often healing our human condition,” said Williams in a statement. “Now we need Congress to put humans first, stand with songwriters, and protect our rights to our own musical works. Don’t give them away to AI.”

[RELATED: 4 Songs You Didn’t Know Paul Willams Wrote for Other Aritsts]

Elizabeth Matthews, CEO of ASCAP, added “Artificial intelligence is moving at the speed of light and we need lawmakers to act now. We fully embrace innovation but only innovation coupled with regulation that protects the rights of creators.”

In their meetings on Capitol Hill, ASCAP members will urge policymakers to enforce the six key, creator-centric principles for AI, which were recently adopted by the ASCAP Board of Directors in 2023, and include: prioritizing rights and compensation for human creativity; protecting the right to decide whether one’s work is included in an AI training license; making sure creators are paid fairly when their work is used in any way by AI; giving credit when creators’ works are used in new AI-generated music; transparency in identifying AI vs. human-generated works and retaining metadata; and an even playing field that values intellectual property across the global music and data ecosystem.

The ASCAP congressional meetings will follow the We Write the Songs concert at The Library of Congress on Wednesday (September 20), featuring performances by Lewis and Jimmy Jam, West, Dupri, Madison Love, and Broadway and screen songwriting duo Pasek and Paul (La La Land, Dear Evan Hansen), among others who will all reconvene on Capitol Hill the following day.

In July 2023, Universal Music Group (UMG) urged Congress to pass regulations to protect artists from copyright infringement around the use of AI-generated content. Jeffrey Harleston, general counsel, and executive vice president for business and legal affairs at UMG, presented three specific laws the label would like to see enacted during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on intellectual property.

Harleston offered three key suggestions to combat copyright infringement by AI users and developers including a “Right of Publicity” law; labeling of AI-generated content; and more transparency giving copyright owners the ability to view the training data used in AI models.

Photo by Gettyimages.com

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