Volume 75, Issue 1, 233-260
The music industry stands on the brink of a crisis. With unpredictable judicial standards that are inconsistent across the country, plaintiffs seeking to protect their musical works against copyright infringement face a heavy burden of proof, especially when facing defendants who are more well- known and more well-funded. Not only that, but plaintiffs may not receive their day in court given that powerhouse artists like Taylor Swift, Sam Smith, and Bruno Mars have chosen to settle rather than defend their musical works in court. Now, Generative Artificial Intelligence (“Generative A.I.”) and A.I.-generated music will inevitably send the music industry into a tailspin—and the law is not ready to grapple with the complexities that will arise. To wit, Generative A.I. is poised to threaten the very principles on which copyright law is founded: To encourage (human) creativity by protecting original works of expression. This Note seeks to protect human music copyright holders against the ever-growing threat of A.I.-generated music. Part I addresses A.I. technology and the legal uncertainties associated with A.I.-generated music. Part II discusses the current doctrine of music copyright infringement. Part III offers a series of proposals for how to adapt the current doctrine to ensure music copyright holders can protect their original works of human authorship against A.I.-generated works.