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Music Labels Sue AI Startups Over Copyright Infringements

Sony Music, Universal Music Group and Warner Records are taking the fight to AI startups accusing them of copyright infringement and of unauthorised use of their material to train AI models.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has initiated lawsuits against Suno and Udio and wants to establish that there is “nothing that exempts AI technology from copyright law or that excuses AI companies from playing by the rules.”

The lawsuits filed in the US federal court accuse Suno and Udio of scraping their copyrighted tracks from the internet, reported Endgadget.

The music companies demand injunctions against future use and damages of up to $150,000 per infringed work. They accused Suno of copying 662 songs and Udio of copying 1,670.

The suits appear aimed at establishing licenced training as the only acceptable industry framework for AI moving forward — while cautioning fear against companies that train their models without explicit consent.

The labels’ complaints said the companies have been “deliberately evasive” about the material they used to train their technology, and that revealing it would “admit willful copyright infringement on an almost unimaginable scale.”

Last month, in a letter to more than 700 companies, including tech companies and music streaming services, Sony Music Group warned against any of its material being used in AI training models, unless it granted specific permission to do so. The warning is believed to cover album cover art, metadata, musical compositions and lyrics.

 

Suno AI, a partner of Microsoft for its CoPilot music generation tool, and Udio AI (Uncharted Labs run the latter) are startups which have developed software that generates music based on text inputs.

The RIAA contend that the services’ reproduced tracks are uncannily similar to existing works to the degree that they must have been trained on copyrighted songs.

It also claims the companies didn’t deny that they trained on copyright works, instead shielding themselves behind their training being “confidential business information” and standard industry practices.

Media reports have pointed to examples where the AI generators have created songs that sounded remarkably similar to The Temptations’ “My Girl” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” among others.

They also claim the AI services produced indistinguishable vocals from artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson and ABBA.

One of the AI tools even reproduced a song that sounded nearly identical to Chuck Berry’s classic “Johnny B. Goode,” using the prompt, “1950s rock and roll, rhythm & blues, 12 bar blues, rockabilly, energetic male vocalist, singer guitarist,” along with some of Berry’s lyrics.

The lawsuit does not seem to be squarely aimed at stopping the AI startups from using the music labels’ materials, but instead forcing them to seek consent and licence the material. “There is room for AI and human creators to forge a sustainable, complementary relationship,” the filing against Suno reads. “This can and should be achieved through the well-established mechanism of free-market licensing that ensures proper respect for copyright owners.”

“Unlicensed services like Suno and Udio that claim it’s ‘fair’ to copy an artist’s life’s work and exploit it for their own profit without consent or pay set back the promise of genuinely innovative AI for us all,” Mitch Glazier, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America.



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