TikTok, Copyright Challenges, and New AI-Labeling

TikTok will now label AI-generated content, joining the CAI and C2PA initiative.

Last Updated May 2024

TikTok has emerged as a powerhouse for content creation and distribution, offering a platform where videos go viral overnight. However, the rapid dissemination of multimedia content on TikTok presents significant challenges for intellectual property (IP) rights holders. Additionally, the rise of AI-generated content online has created significant legal challenges.

Understanding the Platform

TikTok allows users to create short-form videos, often featuring music, sound bites, and visual effects, which can be easily shared and remixed by others. This culture of remixing and sharing content, while a boon for creativity and engagement, frequently leads to copyright infringement issues. Many users either do not realize they are infringing on copyrights or choose to ignore the platform's rules regarding copyrighted material.

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The Scope of Infringement

The most common forms of copyright infringement on TikTok include:

Unauthorized Use of Copyrighted Music: Many TikTok videos feature popular songs played in the background, often without proper licensing.

Reproduction of Video Content: Users frequently replicate or modify other creators' videos without permission.

Use of Copyrighted Visual Art: This includes everything from artwork and illustrations to extensive video clips from copyrighted sources.

The Universal Music Group-TikTok Dispute AI

The recent dispute between UMG and TikTok highlights the friction between music copyright holders and social media platforms regarding copyright usage and compensation. UMG pulled its catalog from TikTok, arguing that the platform's use of AI-generated music dilutes the royalty pool for artists, reflecting broader concerns about fair compensation in the era of artificial intelligence. The dispute emphasizes the need for clear agreements that consider technological advances and their impact on rights holders.

As a result, Universal Music Group (UMG) and TikTok have announced a new licensing agreement aimed at enhancing benefits for UMG's artists and songwriters by utilizing TikTok's promotional capabilities and advanced technology. This partnership promises improved remuneration, promotional opportunities, and robust protections against unauthorized AI-generated music. The agreement also includes initiatives for deeper fan engagement, e-commerce monetization, and the development of artist-centric tools such as integrated music applications, enhanced data analytics, and ticketing capabilities. 

AI Labeling and TikTok’s C2PA Partnership

On May 9th, TikTok has introduced an advanced tagging system that automatically labels AI-generated content, whether created on TikTok or uploaded from other platforms, by detecting metadata tags in the content. This initiative, part of a collaboration with Adobe's Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI) and the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA), aims to enhance transparency by letting users distinguish between genuine and AI-generated content. 

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Source: TikTok

In the rise of creation and spread of deepfakes online, this partnership is a milestone as TikTok is the first video-sharing platform to support this initiative. TikTok mentions that the implementation will be gradual, and as other platforms join the initiative, they will be able to label more AI-generated content.

What IP Professionals Can Do

As an IP professional, there are several strategies to consider when managing copyright infringement on TikTok:

  1. Education and Awareness: Educating clients about their rights and the importance of enforcing them is crucial. IP professionals can consider conducting workshops or creating informational content specifically tailored to creative individuals and businesses active on TikTok.
  2. Proactive Monitoring: Encourage clients to actively monitor their intellectual property on social media platforms, including TikTok. Various tools and services can help identify instances of infringement by scanning the platform for similar content.
  3. Engagement with TikTok's IP Protection Tools: TikTok offers a range of tools designed to help rights holders protect their IP, including:
    1. Copyright Takedown Requests: IP professionals can help clients submit takedown requests to TikTok when infringing content is identified.
    2. Digital Rights Management (DRM) Systems: These systems can prevent the unauthorized use of copyrighted material on the platform.

4. Licensing Agreements: Where appropriate, professionals might assist clients in negotiating licensing agreements with content creators on TikTok, ensuring that all uses of copyrighted material are authorized and monetarily compensated.

Preserving TikTok Audio & Video Before It’s Deleted

Videos on platforms like TikTok are quickly deleted, modified or reproduced, making it essential to capture and preserve them while they are still accessible. When preserving TikTok evidence, it’s critical to capture all associated metadata and original audio and video files. Preserving digital content properly allows for its admissibility in court, supporting cases where the timing and authenticity of evidence can be pivotal. Page Vault specializes in collecting online evidence in a way that is fast, legally admissible, and courtroom-ready.

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