Major labels weighing lawsuits against AI firms for unlicensed training

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Three major music companies are suing artificial intelligence startups Snow and Udio for allegedly training on copyrighted sound recordings, according to multiple sources.

The potential lawsuit, which would involve Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group (WMG) and Sony Music, would target a pair of companies that have quickly become two of the most important players in the emerging field of creative AI music. . While many of its competitors focus on creating music or lyrics or sound, Suno and Udio allow users to create all three at the click of a button. Two sources said the case could come up as early as next week. Representatives for the three majors, as well as Suno and Udio, did not respond to requests for comment.

Music companies including UMG have already sued another major AI firm, Anthropic, for using copyrighted material to train models. But this case dealt only with lyrics, which in many ways are legally similar to written subject matter. The new suite will handle music and sound itself.

Just a few months after its launch, Udio has already produced what could be considered an AI-generated hit song with the parody track “BBL Drizzy” created by the comedian. King Volonius And became popular with super producer Metro Boomin's remix. Later, the song reached new heights when it was sampled in Sexy Red and Drake's song “You My Everything”, becoming the first major example of AI-generated song sampling.

Snow has also had early successes since its launch in December 2023. In May, the company announced in a blog post that it had raised a total of $125 million in funding from a group of notable investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners and Nate Friedman And Daniel Gross.

However, both companies have drawn criticism from many members of the music business who believe the models practice a wide range of copyrighted material, including hit songs, without consent, compensation or rights holders. of credit. Representatives for Suno and YouTube previously declined to comment on whether they train on protected copyrights, the YouTube co-founder said. Billboard They are trained only in “good music”.

recently rolling Stone Listen, the story about the investor Antonio Rodriguez Admits that Snow doesn't have a license for whatever music he's trained in. However, he said that was not a concern for him, adding that the lack of such licenses was “something we had to underwrite when we invested in the company, because we There are fat wallets that would file lawsuits after these guys… Honestly, if we had deals with labels after the company started, I probably wouldn't have invested in it It was necessary to make this product.

In a series of articles for Worldwide music businessFounder of AI safety nonprofit Fairly Trained, Ed Newton-Rexfound that he was able to produce music from listen and audio that “bears a striking resemblance to the copyrighted music. It is true in melody, melody, style, and melody,” he wrote. However, both Companies prevent users from prompting models to imitate artists' styles by typing in sentiments such as “a rock song in the style of Radiohead” or by using the voices of certain artists.

The lawsuit, if it is filed, will hinge on whether using unlicensed material to train AI models amounts to copyright infringement — an existential question for the developing sector because Depriving AI models of new input can limit their capabilities. Content owners in many fields, including book authors, comedians and visual artists, have all filed similar lawsuits over the training.

Many AI companies argue that such training is protected by the fair use doctrine of copyright — an important principle that allows people to reuse protected works without breaking the law. While fair use has historically allowed for things like news reporting and parody, AI firms say it applies equally to “intermediate” use of millions of tasks to build a machine that's fully functional. Constantly brings out new creations. This argument will likely be a central question in any trial on AI training.

Some AI companies have taken a more “ethical” approach to AI training by working directly with companies and rights holders to license their copyrights or instead form official partnerships.

So far, major companies have embraced partnerships with AI companies like this. Already, UMG and WMG have worked with YouTube for their AI voice experience DreamTrack. Sony has partnered with Vermilio on The Orb and David Gilmour's remix project. WMG has worked with the estate of Edith Piaf to recreate her voice using AI for an upcoming biopic. UMG launches an AI music incubator with YouTube Music. And recently, UMG teamed up with SoundLabs to allow artists to create their own AI sound models for personal use in the studio.

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