The United States Trade Representative (USTR) released its annual Notorious Markets Report, highlighting illicit digital and physical markets where copyright piracy occurs. While the RIAA recommended including a section on AI Piracy in 2023—it’s not included in the report yet.
Each year the USTR highlights both digital and physical markets around the world where copyright piracy threatens the American music community and other creative sectors. In October 2023, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) submitted a statement to the USTR asking the government to include the category of AI voice cloning in this annual list. In this request, the RIAA specifically calls out the service Voicify.AI—which provides voice models of famous music artists.
According to the RIAA statement, AI piracy consists of ripping YouTube videos to create a capella tracks of works, then using that track to train an AI voice model. “This unauthorized activity infringes copyright as well as infringing the sound recording artist’s right to publicity,” the RIAA told the USTR in its recommendation to add AI Voice Cloning to the notorious markets report.
“The year 2023 saw an eruption of unauthorized AI vocal clone services that infringe not only the rights of the artists whose voices are being cloned but also the rights of those that own the sound recordings in each underlying musical track,” the RIAA continued in its letter from October.
Despite that recommendation from the RIAA, the latest 2024 Notorious Markets report still focuses mostly on torrenting sites, storage locker sites, and physical markets located around the globe peddling bootleg copies of recordings and unauthorized merch. The RIAA thanked the USTR for the report, but also highlighted the need for the AI Piracy category to be added in the future.
“We appreciate the report’s prioritization of thefts that target the music community such as stream-ripping,” George York, RIAA SVP, International Policy says. “And we urge a close look in the future at emerging piracy challenges presented by AI, including the widespread illegal use of copyrighted sound recordings and artist names, images, and likenesses to generate invasive and unlawful voice clones and deepfakes.”