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Major Record Labels Sue AI Companies Over Copyright Infringement

 |  June 24, 2024

On Monday, major record labels Sony Music, Universal Music Group, and Warner Records filed lawsuits against artificial intelligence (AI) companies Suno and Udio, accusing them of mass copyright infringement. The labels claim the AI firms unlawfully copied their recordings to train music-generating AI systems, according to federal lawsuits filed in New York and Massachusetts.

AI Systems Compete with Human Artists

The complaints allege that Suno and Udio copied music without permission to develop systems capable of creating music that directly competes with, cheapens, and potentially overwhelms human artists’ work. Users of these AI systems have reportedly been able to replicate elements of iconic songs such as The Temptations’ “My Girl,” Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” and James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good).” Moreover, the AI-generated vocals are said to be “indistinguishable” from those of renowned musicians like Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, and ABBA, Reuters reported.

Seeking Statutory Damages

The record labels have asked the courts to award statutory damages of up to $150,000 per song allegedly copied by the defendants. This legal action marks the first instance of music-generating AI being targeted in court, following several lawsuits by authors, news outlets, and others against the use of their work to train text-based AI models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Funding and Evasion Tactics

Despite raising millions in funding this year, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Suno and New York-based Udio have been accused of being “deliberately evasive” about the materials used to train their AI technology. The labels argue that full disclosure by the companies would “admit willful copyright infringement on an almost unimaginable scale.”

AI Companies Claim Fair Use

AI companies, including Suno and Udio, have maintained that their systems make fair use of copyrighted material. However, the record labels’ lawsuits challenge this defense, seeking to hold the AI firms accountable for what they describe as extensive and deliberate copyright violations.

Source: Reuters