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  • Writer's picturePritish Bagdi

AI Use in Music Exceeds Copyright Law, According to a K-Pop Conference

The inaugural Moving the World with Music conference in Seoul was dominated by artificial intelligence. However, K-Pop executives claim that copyright law lags far behind technologies like ChatGPT and Midjourney.

Pritish Bagdi

Image: Moving the World with Music

Supertone, a Korean startup backed by BTS promoter Hybe Corp., used its platform at MWM to exhibit voice technology and lower barriers in music production. "Our ultimate goal is to create a link between creators and technology, making what creators thought was impossible into reality," stated Lee Kyogu, CEO and co-founder of Supertone.

Pozalabs, backed by CJ ENM, was founded in 2018 when CEO Huh Wongil noticed a growing demand for low-cost background music for video content creation. Current music copyright clearance issues are an impediment to the (legal) use of previously recorded music and could not keep up with the "ppalli ppalli" (anything fast) work schedule of the Korean business. “Typically, it takes about two weeks to create music, but it takes about 5 minutes for our system. That means we can make 50-60 tracks, while others can only do five,” said Huh.

However, the recent controversy surrounding the viral track "Heart on My Sleeve" by Drake and The Weeknd doppelgangers was mentioned in multiple panel discussions on Thursday. The Korea Music Content Association organised the conference, which brought together executives from the music and technology industries, as well as government officials and members of the Korean parliament.

"More must be done to ensure that Koreans can compete on an equal playing field." For example, Korean artists are still unable to fully benefit from public performance rights, which account for a significant portion of industry revenue. "They are also unable to effectively prevent Korean consumers from accessing foreign streaming sites," said to Lauri Rechardt, chief legal officer at the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

According to the most recent IFPI Global Music Report, Korea is now the world's seventh largest music market. It rose by more than 14% in 2022, much exceeding the global average of 9.0%.

However, the country's copyright laws currently only apply to humans and businesses, not to virtual humans or AI-generated content. And Korean courts have yet to rule on a patent application for American scientist Stephen Thaler's artificial intelligence system, Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience (DABUS). DABUS' patent applications have already been denied in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and parts of Europe.

“As AI advances, we need to come up with synchronized international laws, so K-pop can spread throughout the whole world and IP can be protected,” said Kim Shi Hyeong, director general of the Korean Intellectual Property Office.

An Overview of Generative AI in Audio


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