Addressing The Complexities Of Copyright In AI-Generated Music and Art


The Rise of AI in the Creative Industry

Imagine a world where your favorite songs and paintings are not just created by talented artists but also by sophisticated AI systems. This is not science fiction—it’s happening right now. AI is revolutionizing the creative industry, enabling artists to produce music and visual art in ways that were previously unimaginable. With AI, artists can iterate, test, and refine their ideas faster and more often, all while lowering costs. This means that both AI-aided and traditional artists have the potential to elevate their creativity and performance levels—to transcend their previous boundaries truly.

Addressing the Complexities of Copyright in AI-Generated Art and Music

But with this innovation comes a big question: Who owns the art and music created by AI? Traditional copyright laws were designed for a world where only humans made art. These laws must adapt as AI becomes more involved in the creative process. In this blog, I’ll explore how we can address the complexities of copyright in AI-generated art and music by recognizing the significant human input and proposing a balanced framework for ownership.

In the evolving landscape of AI-generated art and music, it is crucial to establish clear metrics for recognizing human contributions. Two key concepts in this framework are the “Originator Fingerprint” and the “Molecule Signature.”

Originator Fingerprint: This concept identifies and measures the unique input and influence of the human creator within AI-assisted works. It captures the distinct artistic elements introduced by the human.

Molecule Signature: This concept goes a step further and analyzes the detailed components and nuances added by humans, breaking down contributions into smaller, identifiable parts.

By implementing these metrics, we can ensure fair recognition and attribution in AI-assisted creations.

The Role of Human Input in AI-Generated Art and Music

Creative Decisions and Originality

Human input is crucial in the creative process, even when AI is involved. Your unique contributions often define the originality of your work. Here are some typical scenarios:

  • Music: Imagine you write heartfelt lyrics about personal experiences and provide a recorded melody using a guitar or a piano. These elements reflect your creativity and emotions. Then, you input these lyrics and melody into an AI system, generating a full orchestration and arrangement. Your original input drives the final product, showcasing your creative decisions.
  • Art: consider an artist who sketches a concept and provides a color scheme. The AI then generates a detailed painting based on these inputs. Likewise, consider an artist who uses an AI tool to create an abstract concept and then paints it by hand, adding personal touches and interpretations.

Influence on Artistic Qualities

Your input significantly influences the qualities of the final piece. The AI might handle technical aspects, but your contributions create the essence of the art or music. Some examples:

  • Music: Consider a composer who provides a film score’s detailed outline and emotional direction. The AI assists by generating instrumental parts, but the composer’s vision shapes the final piece. Consider an artist who sings a vocal melody using an AI tool. The AI builds harmonies and instrumentation around it, but the sentiment and style come from the artist’s performance.
  • Art: An artist provides a basic sketch and direction for a painting. The AI fills in the details, but the final piece reflects the artist’s vision and style. Hypothetically, consider an artist inputs a color palette and theme into an AI, which generates a preliminary design. The artist then refines and completes the piece by hand, integrating personal techniques and emotions.

Indistinguishable AI Use in the Creative Process

Common Practice Among Artists

Many artists use various tools, including AI, in their creative processes. This practice is becoming more common, blending traditional and modern techniques. For example:

  • Music: A musician might use software to generate drum patterns or synth sounds, seamlessly integrating them into their compositions. An artist could also use AI to generate chord progressions and build upon them with melodies and lyrics, creating a cohesive piece.
  • Art: An artist might use digital tools to create initial sketches or color schemes and refine them manually. Another option is to consider an artist who uses AI to generate abstract forms and then enhances and personalizes them with traditional painting techniques.
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Normalization Through Distribution Channels

Once integrated with human input, AI-generated content can be distributed through standard channels like YouTube Music, Apple Music, art galleries, or online platforms, which often do not distinguish between human and AI-created works. Some scenarios include:

  • Music: A song created with AI assistance is uploaded to Spotify. Listeners enjoy the music without knowing or caring about the AI’s role. How about an artist releases an album where AI-generated music supports their vocals and lyrics? The album gains popularity, and the artist is recognized for their creativity.
  • Art: A digital painting created with AI tools is sold in an online gallery. Buyers appreciate the art without knowing the extent of AI involvement. Now consider an artist exhibiting AI-assisted paintings in a gallery. The unique style and vision attract attention and praise.

How is a Human-Written Prompt Different from the Creative Process?

While a prompt initiates the AI’s role in content generation, the creative process encompasses an idea’s comprehensive and iterative development, reflecting the creator’s unique vision and effort. The prompt can be a tool within the broader, more prosperous creative journey, emphasizing that human input and AI contributions should be recognized and protected under copyright law. It’s important to point out that I’m not talking about a general prompt indicating the song’s genre and style; asking the AI to generate “A Great Love Song” has no significant net human contribution to be considered creative work. The same applies to AI (or computer programs) writing AI work.

Fairness and Ethical Considerations

Fairness is paramount in the discussion of AI-generated content. The goal is to recognize and reward genuine creative efforts while preventing the system’s exploitation. Consider:

  • Music: Some individuals might game the system by mass-producing music with AI, making minimal changes such as altering a few words in the lyrics and expecting the same recognition as more involved creators. The Originator Fingerprint proposal addresses this by objectively measuring the contributions in a piece. An AI-generated song with minor human input would likely have a low Molecule factor, indicating less human effort and creativity.
  • Example (Art): Some might produce many AI-generated artworks with minor modifications and attempt to sell them as original pieces.
  • Hypothetical (Art): The Originator Fingerprint could also apply to art, ensuring that artworks with minimal human input are recognized as such and do not receive the same acclaim as more genuinely creative works.

Correlating Compilers and AI in Copyright Ownership

The comparison between compilers and AI systems offers valuable insights into the justification of ownership in AI-aided products. Both tools transform human inputs into outputs in fundamentally different ways that impact copyright considerations.


  • Human Ownership: Compilers translate human-written source code into executable code without adding any creative input. The human programmer owns the resulting output, as the compiler only processes the existing creativity.
  • Partial Infringement: However, copying any part of the compiled code without authorization constitutes an apparent copyright infringement. This underscores the protection of human-authored content, regardless of the tool used.

AI Systems:

  • Shared Creativity: AI systems generate content by blending human inputs with learned patterns, introducing new creative elements. The resulting work is a collaborative product of human and AI efforts.
  • Originator fingerprints: The digital footprint concept helps objectively measure human contributions in AI-generated works. We can establish clear ownership and protect human creative input by quantifying these contributions.

Justification of Ownership:

  • Legal Precedent: The ability to sue for partial copyright infringement supports the protection of significant human contributions. This legal framework can be extended to AI-aided products, ensuring that human authorship is recognized.
  • Fair Attribution: A digital footprint would ensure that genuine creative efforts are reasonably attributed, preventing exploitation and encouraging the ethical use of AI in creative processes.
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The correlation between compilers and AI systems highlights the importance of recognizing and protecting human creativity. While compilers straightforwardly translate human input, AI systems require a nuanced approach like the Molecule Footprint to ensure fair ownership and copyright protection. This framework supports the justification of human ownership in AI-aided products, aligning with legal standards and promoting innovation.

Legal and Practical Considerations for AI-Aided Music

Selling AI-Aided Music

You CAN legally sell AI-aided music. The current legal framework allows for the commercialization of music that incorporates AI-generated components.

Copyrighting Your Lyrics

You CAN copyright your lyrics if they are original and fixed in a tangible medium. Original lyrics are protected under copyright law, ensuring your creative expression is legally recognized and safeguarded.

AI-Generated Components

While AI-generated components like melodies and harmonies are not eligible for copyright protection, this does not diminish the value or legality of your work. Since the unique elements of your song, such as the lyrics and vocal performance, are copyrighted, the core identity of your song is protected.

  • Example: If someone tries to use AI-generated melodies and harmonies without your lyrics, the resulting piece would lack the unique aspects that make it your song.
  • Hypothetical: Even if the AI-generated music is replicated without your original lyrics and vocal elements, it would not constitute an infringement on your copyrighted material.

No Legal Concerns

Given the current legal landscape, no significant legal concerns prevent you from selling AI-aided music. There is no reason to wait—this is an opportune moment to leverage AI in your creative process and bring your music to market.

Timing is Everything

Now is the best time to embrace AI in music creation. The technology offers new possibilities and enhances your creative capabilities. While there are no guarantees, the potential for innovation and reaching new audiences makes this an exciting period for AI-aided music.

Proposal for a Balanced Approach

Originator Fingerprint Concept

An originator fingerprint could serve as a unique identifier representing the proportionate contributions from human creators and AI. This signature can help objectively determine ownership.

  • Example (Music): An algorithm analyzes the components of a song to quantify the human and AI contributions, creating a unique signature.
  • Hypothetical (Music): This originator’s fingerprint is used in legal contexts to allocate ownership rights fairly. For instance, an AI-generated song with minimal human input will likely be generic and have a small fingerprint factor, reflecting the lower level of human creativity.
  • Example (Art): An algorithm evaluates the elements of a painting, such as the original sketch, color choices, and refinements, to determine the human contribution.
  • Hypothetical (Art): The originator fingerprint helps distinguish between a largely AI-generated artwork and one with significant human involvement, ensuring fair recognition and ownership.

Signature vs Fingerprint in the Molecule Concept

In determining ownership and attribution in AI-generated works, both “signature” and “fingerprint” can play crucial roles within the Molecule framework. Here’s how these concepts are defined and used:

Molecule Signature:

  • Definition: Represents a unique identifier that quantifies the proportional contributions of both human and AI inputs in creative work.
  • Function: Helps determine ownership by measuring and distinguishing the extent of human and AI contributions.
  • Example: If an artist inputs lyrics, melodies, and specific directions into an AI, the Molecule Signature would reflect the significant human input.

Molecule Fingerprint:

  • Definition: Represents a detailed map or pattern of contributions in a creative work, identifying specific elements added by both humans and AI.
  • Function: It provides a granular view of the creative process, showing exactly which parts were contributed by humans and which by AI.
  • Example: A fingerprint might show that the chord progressions and harmonies were AI-generated, while the lyrics and vocal melodies were human-created.

While the Molecule Signature offers an overall measure of contributions for ownership and attribution, the Molecule Fingerprint provides detailed insights into the specific elements of the creative process. Together, they ensure fair and accurate recognition of human and AI input.

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Development of Industry Standards

Industry standards and best practices are needed to address the complexities of AI-assisted creative works. Collaboration among creators, AI developers, and legal bodies is essential.

  • Example (Music): Music industry organizations develop guidelines for crediting AI contributions.
  • Hypothetical (Music): New industry standards outline how to document and distribute AI-assisted works, ensuring transparency and fairness.
  • Example (Art): Art institutions and platforms establish criteria for disclosing AI involvement in artworks.
  • Hypothetical (Art): Art industry standards ensure that AI-assisted works are properly credited and valued according to their human and AI contributions.

Extending the Argument to Visual Arts

Application of Principles to Painting

The principles discussed for music also apply to visual arts. AI-generated prompts can uniquely define an original idea; artists can bring these ideas to life through traditional methods.

  • Example: An artist uses AI to generate abstract concepts and then paints them by hand, adding their personal touch.
  • Hypothetical: An artist creates a series of paintings based on AI-generated sketches, each reflecting their unique style and interpretation.

The Importance of Foundational Knowledge

A strong understanding of the basics is crucial in creating music, such as painting and visual arts. Whether using AI or traditional methods, the foundational knowledge of color theory in art and music theory in composition plays a significant role.

  • Personal Insight: I’ve recently learned to play the guitar and piano, delving into concepts like the circle of fifths chords. Additionally, I’ve produced hand-drawn art and learned drawing, painting, and material management techniques.
  • Example: Understanding color theory helps an artist choose the right palette for conveying emotions in a painting. Similarly, music theory aids a musician in selecting chords and progressions that evoke the desired sentiment.
  • Hypothetical: An artist uses their knowledge of complementary colors to enhance the impact of an AI-generated concept, just as a musician might use their understanding of chord progressions to refine an AI-composed piece.

Encapsulating the Human Spirit

The essence of human creativity lies in the ability to encapsulate and express human sentiment, interpretation, and spirit. AI does not lose this ability; instead, it becomes a tool that extends these capabilities.

  • Personal Insight: The techniques and theories I’ve learned are integral to producing something unique. They allow me to infuse my work with personal expression and emotion.
  • Example: A painter uses their understanding of light and shadow to give depth to an AI-generated sketch, making it their own.
  • Hypothetical: A musician leverages their knowledge of music theory to build upon an AI-generated melody, creating a piece that resonates deeply emotionally.


Summary of Key Points

AI transforms the creative process, allowing artists to iterate and innovate more effectively. Recognizing the significant human input in AI-generated works is crucial for adapting copyright laws to this new reality. Foundational art and music theory knowledge enhances this process, allowing artists to produce unique, expressive works.

Fairness in Copyright

This proposal focuses on fairness for all involved parties. It aims to recognize genuine creative efforts and prevent those who might exploit the system by making minimal changes to AI-generated content from receiving undue credit. The Molecule Signature proposal is a step towards achieving this balance.

Call to Action

Artists should document their creative processes and advocate for legal changes reflecting AI’s collaborative nature and human creativity. Industry stakeholders must work together to develop standards that ensure fair ownership and recognition.

No Reason to Wait

With the ability to sell AI-aided music legally and copyright your original lyrics, there is no reason to delay. Embrace the opportunity, leverage AI, and make your mark in the music industry. Timing is everything, and now is the best time to innovate and share your unique creations with the world. 😁💪

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