Songwriters of global hits getting sued for alleged plagiarism has become a recurrent story on MBW these past few years – and a recurrent source of misery for writers and their representatives in the industry.
But what if a songwriter or composer were able to use AI technology to avoid litigation altogether, by finding out if their song copies elements of other compositions, potentially in real time?
According to a document published last week, Daniel Ek’s company is seeking a patent for its “Plagiarism Risk Detector And Interface” technology, which pertains to “Methods, systems and computer program products..for testing a lead sheet for plagiarism”.
As explained in the filing – and as our songwriter/musician readers will already know – a ‘lead sheet’ is a type of music score or musical notation for songs denoting their melody, chords and sometimes lyrics or additional notes.
Spotify’s invention would allow for a lead sheet to be fed through the platform’s ‘plagiarism detector’, which would then, “having been trained on a plurality of preexisting encoded lead sheets”, immediately compare the composition in question to all other songs stored in its database.
A set of messages would then be displayed – describing a detected level of plagiarism regarding “a plurality of elements” such as a chord sequence, melodic fragments, harmony, etc. of a song (see fig 7 below).
The AI software would also potentially calculate “a similarity value” of the song in question vs. other songs in the Spotify lead sheet library.
These technology could work the other way around, too, says Spotify’s filing, reassuring a songwriter that “the melodic fragment [of your song] appears to be completely new”.
One particularly interesting element of this is that it would take place in near-real time, allowing a songwriter or composer to tweak elements of their work to avoid infringement before they (and/or their record label) spent the big bucks on recording a final version.
Spotify’s filing adds that “in some embodiments a link to the media content item that might be infringed (e.g., a track of an album) is provided so that a [songwriter] can quickly… listen to the potentially plagiarized work”.