Songwriters to lobby Congress for protections from AI

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Composers and songwriters are heading to Washington to speak with lawmakers about putting in place protections for creators amid the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. 

Around 30 members of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) will meet with members of Congress Thursday to talk about the threats AI is already posing to the industry as part of the organization’s “Stand with Songwriters” advocacy day. 

“We’re in the midst of this. This is a situation that has to be dealt with, and it’s moving so quickly,” ASCAP President Paul Williams told The Hill. 

To match the quickly innovating world of AI, Congress must also act fast, Williams said. 

“We need to have an awareness of our needs. We’re protecting the lives and livelihoods of almost a million members, and across the board and the music industry this is a tsunami of problems to be dealt with. And we need the assistance from legislators,” he said. 

Ahead of Thursday’s push on the Hill, several ASCAP members will perform Wednesday night at a “We Write the Songs” concert at the Library of Congress. The annual event is returning for the first time since 2019. 

The concert will feature performances across genres from R&B and pop songwriting duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, producer and songwriter Jermaine Dupri, pop songwriter Madison Love, Broadway and screen songwriting duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and contemporary Christian artist Matthew West. 

The performers will be introduced by Reps. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Ben Cline (R-Va.). 

The lobbying push from ASCAP comes as lawmakers race toward regulation on AI on a wide range of topics, from copyright protection to national security. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing in June on intellectual property concerns stemming from AI, one of several hearings on risks and benefits of the technology. 

Last week, the Senate convened a forum with civil rights leaders and tech CEOs to discuss the wide range of risks and benefits associated with the technology.

Some legislative proposals have emerged, but so far, the new rules of the road set by the federal government on AI have been through voluntary commitments from companies. 

During conversations on the Hill Thursday, Williams said ASCAP members will discuss the organization’s six guiding principles on AI protections: human creators first, transparency, consent, compensation, credit and global consistency. 

“ASCAP is definitely not anti-tech,” Williams said, but he added that protections are needed to help create an even playing field.”

“We’re in a world that’s becoming more and more automated,” he added. “There actually is no voice of AI because all of culture has been usurped.”

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