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Do artificially-created parody songs violate copyright law?

On Behalf of | Jul 25, 2020 | Copyright Law

Many people enjoy parody songs, often inspired by hit music, saying that they provide a laugh or even interesting social commentary. Though most parody is protected by fair use, some artists make a point to ask another artist for permission to parody a particular song. Even though that courtesy may not be necessary in a legal sense, some here in New York argue that songs should be protected from parody by copyright law, particularly with the advancement of technology. This is the question before music professionals after a researcher created an artificial intelligence program that can generate parody songs on its own.

The researcher at the center of this case created a machine learning model that he dubbed “Weird A.I. Yancovic,” after the famous parody artist. The machine creates new songs that have lyrics with the same rhyme scheme and syllables as the originals. The researcher posted one of its creations to Twitter, based on Michael Jackson’s hit “Beat It.” The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry sent a notice to Twitter to remove the content, based on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The researcher says he has created and posted other parody songs, but the Jackson tune was the only one targeted for removal. Industry professionals are now left to debate not only the usage of existing music for parody songs, but how artificial intelligence comes into play. Some of them argue that the audio is still similar enough to be a violation of copyright.

However this case turns out, the fact remains that music artists need to ensure that their work is protected by copyright law. Artists of all mediums here in New York may benefit from working with a copyright law attorney. Doing so may help ensure that their work is used only as they approve.