Leading Global Music Labels Sue AI Firms, Alleging Copyright Violations

Well-known record labels globally have sued a pair of artificial intelligence (AI) start-ups in a possible landmark case. The plaintiffs, which claim that some copyrights have been violated, include Warner Records, Universal Music Group and Sony Music.

They claim that Udio and Suno have committed copyright infringement, arguing that the two artificial intelligence companies have been stealing their music and releasing similar tunes. The record labels are asking that they be compensated for this violation, quoting a figure of $150,000 per tune.

In a blog post earlier this week, Udio stated that it was completely uninterested in content reproduction. The company, also known as Uncharted Labs, is supported by high-profile venture capital investors. It released its application to the public earlier this year, gaining almost instant fame for its tool being used to come up with BBL Drizzy, a parody song.

Suno, which released its first product in 2023, claims more than 10 million individuals have used its offering to make music. The company, which is party to an agreement with Microsoft, imposes a monthly fee for its service. Recently, Suno announced that it had raised more than $120 million from its investors.

The suit was announced by the Recording Industry Association of America. It is a part of many other suits from new organizations, authors and other groups that are challenging the rights of artificial-intelligence companies to use their work.

In the past, AI companies have claimed that, under the fair-use doctrine, the use of such data is legitimized. This doctrine allows copyrighted material to be used without a license under specific conditions, including news and satire. In its statement, Udio noted that its system was designed to come up with new music reflecting new ideas. The company added that it would continue to refine filters to make certain its model didn’t reproduce artists’ voices or copyrighted works.

The record labels noted that while the lawsuit was filed in federal court in New York and Massachusetts, the AI startups continued to make money from copying the songs. In their complaints, the plaintiffs state that there’s no functional purpose for the artificial intelligence models used to be fed with copyrighted songs other than to produce new competing recordings. The complainants note that the defendants produced work such as Prancing Queen, a version of Dancing Queen, which even huge fans of ABBA find hard to differentiate from an actual song by the band.

This lawsuit is a cautionary message to other players such as Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) to do their homework when sourcing material to train their AI models, since conflicts can arise with creators aggrieved by the use of their content without prior permission.

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