The future of songwriting may be forever changed.
Music copyright lawsuits are no stranger to anyone in the music industry. Spotify’s new technological interface may resolve music copyright infringements before they’ve even begun, but what does this mean for songwriters and the future of songwriting?
In early December it has been reported that Swedish audio streaming company Spotify made a European patent filing for AI technology that would help detect songwriter plagarism.
Spotify’s patent filing (link) divulges a plagarism detection technology called ‘Plagarism Risk Detector and Interface’ which concers:
‘Methods, systems and computer program products are provided for testing a lead sheet for plagiarism. A test lead sheet having a plurality of passages is perceived at a plagiarism detector. A set of annotations describing a level of plagiarism of a plurality of elements (e.g. chord sequence, subsequences, melodic fragments of the test lead sheet in relation to pre-existing lead sheets are generated and output via an output device.’
In other words, Spotify’s plagiarism tech will compare and analyse a submitted lead sheet against an existing library of lead sheets to determine the possibility of copyright infringements. A lead sheet, also known as a fake sheet, is a form of musical notation that specifies the essential elements of a song, including aspects such as harmony, lyrics and molody. Lead sheets do not include accompaniments, such as voice leading or bass lines.
Spotify’s tech reduces the need for human checking and also negates by a great percentage, the chances of human error in regulating fair music use. In detecting plagiarism early and accurately, Spotify’s tech has the potential to help save time, fees and effort expended in legal battles.
But what does this mean for songwriters? It may be a headache for a songwriter to pour their heart and souls into a song, only to be told that it is composed too similarly to an existing piece. However, should Spotify’s tech detect aspects of the song that may potentially infringe upon another artists’ work, this process of detecting plagiarism via AI can be beneficial to the songwriter as they are given the opportunity to revise these sections of the song to avoid copyright infringement.
Although Spotify has filed for a European patent for its technology, Spotify has stated that not every patent is bound to be implemented in their music streaming service (link).
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