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Music Isn’t Free Despite Zero Marginal Costs: The Transformative Impact of AI on Copyright Laws

With the evolution of digital technology, the cost of producing and distributing music has dramatically decreased. Theoretically, the ‘marginal cost’ of replicating music is almost zero. However, why doesn’t this result in free music? The answer lies in the legal framework of copyright.

The Role of Copyright

Copyright exists to protect the economic interests of creators, allowing them to profit from their works. In the music industry, this benefits composers, singers, record companies, and others. This plays a vital role in encouraging creative activities and contributing to cultural development.

The Advent of AI and the Transformation of Copyright

However, the advancement of AI technology is bringing significant changes to the copyright system. Music created by AI raises questions about who is the ‘creator’ and who owns the copyright. Furthermore, when AI creates new works by referencing existing music, it complicates the delineation of copyright infringement.

The Future of Copyright System

Such changes necessitate a fundamental revision of the copyright system. New rules need to be established that protect the interests of both creators and consumers while adapting to technological advancements. For instance, clarifying the rights and usage bounds for AI-generated works and redefining the criteria for copyright infringement could be considered.


Music remains non-free despite nearing zero marginal costs because of the copyright system. However, the rise of AI challenges this old system, forcing a transformation. While this transformation presents challenges, it also offers opportunities for new creativity and cultural evolution. By embracing and adapting to these changes, we can enrich the future of music.


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