As Artists Suffer from AI Song Covers, Will Korea Tighten Copyright Law?

Fanmade AI covers have been taking over the internet, but artists whose voices these AI covers ”utilize" are suffering. 

For K-pop fans, it is impossible to scroll through YouTube without getting recommended “AI song covers” utilizing various singers’ voices. It is known that AI song covers are music generated by AI, which “learns” the voices of singers and replicates it, not actually sung by the singers and without consent from them. 

As these covers start to gain popularity, some YouTube channels have started mass-producing AI cover songs, even taking requests from fans.

Some songs covered by AI have gained attention. One notable example is Taeyeon’s “To.X.” Taeyeon’s “To.X” is an R&B song that harmonizes sensual guitar riffs and a rhythmic melody, conveying the message of realizing being controlled by the other person and ending the relationship. Various artists’ voices covering Taeyeon’s “To.X” became a hot topic on Twitter and YouTube, which also helped the original song to rank high on music charts.

Despite the attention AI covers have received and the renewed interest in the original songs, the actual singers themselves seem unenthusiastic. An industry insider said, “Many singers are upset due to the mass production of AI cover songs, as it damages the original songs and infringes on copyrights.”

On YouTube channels where AI music is posted, it’s specified that “no revenue is generated from this music.” However, distributing modified music without the consent of the original artist violates copyrights, regardless of revenue generation. Both the original singer and the singer whose voice is used face copyright issues.

However, if the copyright of the music is clearly indicated, there isn’t a significant issue. If proper licensing is done, the rights holders of the music receive compensation. However, the current law does not recognize copyrights for voices themselves, posing a problem. Since the voice containing the singer’s unique characteristics isn’t recognized as a creative work, its rights have not yet been legally defined.

Regarding AI cover songs, although there are laws that can be used for punishment, there are gray areas where they do not necessarily violate copyright. Entertainment companies are also struggling with this issue. 


“Companies are looking for laws that can apply to copyright infringement related to AI song covers, but it’s not easy. It’s difficult to punish for copyright infringement, and the methods to prevent it are vague because what constitutes copyright infringement differs”, an insider shared.

Due to the indiscriminate production of AI covers, the Korea Music Copyright Association (hereinafter referred to as KOMCA) and the National Assembly’s Committee on Culture, Sports, and Tourism held a parliamentary public hearing on the introduction of a law mandating labeling for generative AI contents. 

In particular, KOMCA stated, “Preemptive and preventive legislative responses are needed to ensure that content creators’ efforts and investments are not exploited without fair compensation.” They also emphasized that through this public hearing, they will strengthen copyrights related to AI content.

Of course, some audiences who enjoy AI song covers may be sad if they lost this kind of content. However, if the owners of the original songs and the voices used don’t approve, enjoying these videos should not be encouraged. 

Source: Naver

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