possessed-photography-U3sOwViXhkY-unsplashCopyright concerns probably don't rate as even a second-order issue when it comes to artificial intelligence, but it is an interesting topic if you're inclined to think of such advances esoterically. What does it mean about us, about our creativity, if a machine is able to replicate it in some manner? Is the idea of creation somewhat diminished, even though the existence of AI requires in and of itself creativity? Will there come a time when human creativity is rendered unnecessary by this AI, and all of our content is generated by machines designed to optimize your enjoyment of it?

Those are questions to grapple with at a later date; in the here and now, we're still trying to get our heads around those pesky copyright issues. Serving as a test balloon is a creation of a neural net that somehow blended old and new to create a Frank Sinatra cover of Britney Spears' "Toxic". The song was the idea of Futurism magazine, given to the algorithmic music creation group DADABOTS to test the capabilities of the AI's ability to create on command.

Thus the song was created, and the results were...disconcerting, but nevertheless interesting as an academic exercise. YouTube, however, does not seem to share that same curiosity, instead issuing a copyright strike against the video for violating... well, someone's copyright. Untangling the story is murkier from here; as Dan Robitzski reports in Futurism, no party has come forward to claim responsibility for the complaint, so it's impossible to say whether the Sinatra estate or the Spears legal team or some other entity with claims over rights took issue, or if some third party decided to press the case.

Fortunately, the strike was only a temporary setback; the DADABOTS team brought in legal help to challenge the strike, and was able to get the video back on YouTube, making the argument that the song, regardless of its origins, falls squarely into the frame of fair use. YouTube agreed, marking it as a Britney Spears cover, although noting that any future monetization would need to be split with Spears' label.

Thus one case is resolved, and yet nothing is resolved. There's no precedent for any of this type of creation, and YouTube and every other platform seems as unprepared to handle this as they have any other issue that has arisen in the past few years. Again, they are lesser concerns compared to pretty much everything else going on in 2020, but it's an interesting question to think on if you need a break from considering, well, 2020.