Music fans responded with disbelief this week to the release on streaming and social media platforms of the viral song "Heart on My Sleeve."
The hosts of the popular music-related YouTube channel LawTWINZ were among the many who weighed in, discussing whether the track, which uses artificial intelligence to simulate the music of pop stars Drake and The Weeknd, even surpasses the real pop stars' talents.
Advances in AI have gotten to the point where the technology can quickly create new songs like "Heart on My Sleeve" that sound like they're the work of real artists.
Recent examples, which include a faux song that sounds a lot like something the British alt-rock band Oasis would put out, hint at AI's bold, creative possibilities and its ethical and legal limitations.
Now, artists, lawyers and other industry players are trying to figure out how the technology can be used responsibly.
'The cat is not going back in the bag'
The popularity and revenue-earning potential of AI-generated songs have understandably put music industry gatekeepers on guard.
Drake and The Weeknd label owner Universal Music Group invoked copyright violation to get the platforms to take "Heart on My Sleeve" down this week.
"The training of generative AI using our artists' music (which represents both a breach of our agreements and a violation of copyright law) as well as the availability of infringing content created with generative AI on DSPs [Demand Side Platforms], begs the question as to which side of history all stakeholders in the music ecosystem want to be on: the side of artists, fans and human creative expression, or on the side of deep fakes, fraud and denying artists their due compensation," said the company in a statement shared with NPR.
This wasn't the first time the music corporation flexed its litigation muscles, and it won't be the last; earlier this month, it ordered a takedown of an AI track based on the music of Eminem. The song featured lyrics like, "Cats, cats, cats, always on the prowl / They're sneaky and sly with their eyes on the goal."
"The cat is not going back in the bag," said Stanford University associate professor Ge Wang, of the growing popularity of AI-generated music online. Wang, who teaches a class on AI and music, said as the technology becomes more widespread, people can no longer afford to think of it as the stuff of science fiction.