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Anthropic’s AI-Generated Lyrics Lead to Record Labels’ Lawsuit

Universal Music

Universal Music’s battle against chatbots continued Wednesday (Oct. 18) as it sued Anthropic.

The lawsuit against the Google-backed artificial intelligence (AI) startup filed by Universal and two other labels alleges that Anthropic scrapes the record companies’ artists’ songs without consent, using them to create “identical or nearly identical copies of those lyrics” using Anthropic’s generative AI chatbot Claude.

For example, per a report by the Financial Times, if Claude is asked for the lyrics to Gloria Gaynor’s disco classic “I Will Survive,” it will give back “a nearly word-for-word copy of those lyrics,” the suit says.

“This copyrighted material is not free for the taking simply because it can be found on the internet,” the filing continues, arguing that Anthropic had “never even attempted” to license their songs in question.

PYMNTS has contacted Anthropic for comment but has not yet received a reply.

The suit comes as the music industry continues to wrestle with the rise of AI. For example, Universal CEO Lucian Grainge has argued for the need to stem the flow of artificial content flooding streaming services.

“With the right incentive structures in place, platforms can focus on rewarding and enhancing the artist-fan relationship and, at the same time, elevate the user experience on their platforms, by reducing the sea of ‘noise’ … eliminating unauthorized, unwanted and infringing content entirely,” Grainge said in May.

Also in May, Spotify pulled tens of thousands of AI-generated songs from its platform, removing roughly 7% of the songs uploaded by AI music service Boomy.

Universal notified Spotify and other platforms that it had noticed suspicious streaming activity on Boomy songs. Those songs were removed due to suspected “artificial streaming,” or online bots pretending to be human users to inflate the songs’ numbers.

This doesn’t mean the record label is completely hostile to AI. Universal in August teamed with YouTube to launch the YouTube Music AI Incubator, a program designed to work with artists, songwriters and producers.

As PYMNTS wrote at the time, Grainge’s comments upon the launch underscored the need for effective tools, incentives and rewards that minimize the potential pitfalls of AI while maximizing its potential benefits.

“Grainge believes that with the right balance, AI can amplify human imagination and enrich musical creativity in extraordinary new ways,” that report said.