Songwriter Dan Navarro explains the risks of AI for creatives to Congress

Photo credit: Possessed Photography

Acclaimed songwriter Dan Navarro explains the risks of AI to creatives and culture as the House Committee examines the intersection of AI and copyright.

Today, the House Intellectual Property Subcommittee hearing discussed the limits and requirements that copyright and other laws place on generative AI systems.

Artist, songwriter and voice actor Dan Navarro testified at the hearing on the challenges of Generative AI. He shared his experiences with songwriting and a “human alchemy” that “can’t be fully explained” — nor can it be reproduced with AI.

“I started with the end of (Pat Benatar’s ‘We Belong’), and soon we were exchanging lyrics that worked for one or the other of us, two estranged friends found a space to connect and a song that people have “What I’ve enjoyed for the last 40 years was born in 90 minutes,” he says. “This human alchemy cannot be fully explained – but it is at the heart of music creation.”

“By marginalizing and ultimately abandoning the fundamental human spark in music creation, we invite a future that sees fakes as real and debases our art and culture with soulless ‘brown food product’ mediocrity,” continues Navarro away.

“I have a hard time understanding how a system based almost entirely on the work of others – and which can be commercialized or used to develop commercial products – would give nothing, not even the slightest bit, to the owners of the works that power it system owes,” summarizes Hank Johnson (D-GA), member of the Ranking subcommittee, the core issue.

“As Congress learns more about AI, members recognize the moral and legal imperative to respect the right of creators to control how their work is used and to demand strict public policy to ensure that the Voices and likenesses of professional artists will not be cloned and imitated for commercial purposes.” said the Human Artistry Campaign statement released at the hearing. “We are grateful to all members of the House Judiciary Committee for taking such deep and serious consideration of these important issues.”

At the beginning of the hearing, Subcommittee Chair Darrell Issa included comment from RIAA Chair and CEO Mitch Glazier and NMPA President and CEO David Israelite in the official transcript. This piece carefully examines the challenges AI poses to songwriters, recording artists and all performers.

“Songwriters, recording artists and musicians today are literally forced to compete with AI programs trained on copies of their own compositions and recordings. Using copyrighted works to train or develop AI must be subject to open market licensing and approval from all rightsholders,” write Glazier and Israelite.

“Creators and copyright owners must retain exclusive control over how their work is used. The moral invasion of AI engines that steal the core of a professional artist’s identity — the product of a lifetime of hard work and dedication — without permission or payment, cannot be tolerated.”