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[Discussion] AI Music Makers Face Legal Turmoil as Major Record Labels Unite in Copyright Strife

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Major Record Labels Sue AI Music Makers

Several heavyweight record labels, including Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Records, have filed lawsuits against two leading generative AI music-makers, Suno and Udio. They claim these companies have been violating their copyright on a vast scale.

Suno and Udio utilize text prompts to generate original songs. Suno enjoys a collaboration with Microsoft Copilot, making it available for use, and Udio has been integral in creating 'BBL Drizzy', a viral AI music sensation. Both lawsuits were filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), representing many major figures in the music industry, and aim for damages up to $150,000 per work, in addition, to other fees.

Allegations of 'Massive Scale' Copyright Infringement

"These are straightforward cases of copyright infringement involving unlicensed copying of sound recordings on a massive scale. Suno and Udio are attempting to hide the full scope of their infringement rather than putting their services on a sound and lawful footing,” stated RIAA chief legal officer Ken Doroshow in a press release. The defendants had allegedly used works from artists across different genres and eras without consent.

The lawsuits indicate that the accused companies dismissed the allegations and deemed the training data "confidential business information." Highlighted in the complaint was that, "If Suno had taken efforts to avoid copying Plaintiffs’ sound recordings and ingesting them into its AI model, Suno’s service would not be able to reproduce the convincing imitations of such a vast range of human musical expression at the quality that Suno touts." RIAA provided instances of outputs generated using Suno and Udio that resembled songs owned by labels.

The Battle Between AI and Music Industry

Conflicts between the music industry and tech companies offering AI services are increasingly escalating. In the past, UMG and other music publishers sued Anthropic over copyrighted song lyrics distribution when users prompted the Claude 2 system. Platforms like TikTok and YouTube have also been wedged into this battle with the increase of AI-generated music online.

For instance, UMG artists' music, including that of Taylor Swift, was temporarily removed from TikTok due to failed license agreement negotiations, partly due to AI-related concerns. Following this, YouTube announced a system for removing AI-generated music content at rights holders' requests. In May, Sony Music delivered letters to hundreds of tech companies warning against "unauthorized" usage of copyrighted work.

In response to the lawsuit, Suno's CEO, Mikey Shulman, defended the company's technology as "transformative," designed to "generate completely new outputs, not to memorize and regurgitate pre-existing content." Critics, however, express concerns about the potential impact of AI content on creative industries' ability to profit from their work and call for the cessation of AI exploitation of human artists' rights.

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