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The world's biggest music labels shock the AI ​​and music industry with a groundbreaking lawsuit

In a groundbreaking escalation within the battle between the music industry and AI corporations, the world's three largest record labels have filed lawsuits in federal court against text-to-audio platforms Suno and Udio.

Udio and Suno are the 2 most influential AI startups in the sphere of music generation. They have developed powerful models that generate realistic, natural-sounding music from text prompts in a matter of seconds.

The lawsuits, coordinated by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), claim that the event of those models “Mass infringement of copyright in sound recordings.”

The plaintiffs include Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Records.

They argue that Suno and Udio “stole copyrighted sound recordings” to coach their AI, and that the AI-generated music produced by these services “could saturate the market with machine-generated content that directly competes with, cheapens, and eventually drowns out real sound recordings.”

Evidence of this already exists in the shape of completely AI-generated melodies. Thousands of games collected on Spotify, despite the fact that the platform has vowed to oppose them.

In April 2024 over 200 outstanding artistsincluding Billie Eilish, Nicki Minaj, Pearl Jam, REM, Chase & Status and Jon Bon Jovi, vowed to fight AI music.

In May, Sony Music Warnings issued to 700 corporations with the warning: “We have reason to consider that you’ll have already used our music without authorization.”

The writing was on the wall. It was only a matter of when, not if, lawsuits could be filed against AI models for text-to-music creation.

The fair use dilemma

This lawsuit will reignite an increasingly well-known debate: Does training AI using copyrighted works constitute “fair use” under copyright law?

AI corporations like OpenAI, Google, and Anthropic claim that that is the case. And since there isn’t a universally accepted or legally validated answer, they’ve not yet been proven incorrect.

While that is the primary lawsuit related to audio, cases involving writing and visual arts have been ongoing since mid-2023.

However, progress was slow.

First, while an AI model may produce something that appears, reads, or sounds exactly like one other person's work, it's unlikely to be similar. This is particularly true in art and music, where the result will likely be so different from the unique that it's not an actual copy.

As for text, an AI model could produce a verbatim passage from, say, Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings, but it surely may need taken the text not from the unique work but from a third-party forum or website.

Second, AI corporations have curated datasets from quite a few sources, including long-standing public datasets resembling LAION. In this case, the copyright infringement can have occurred on the time the dataset was created, not when it was utilized by the AI ​​company.

Third, copyright infringement sometimes requires that the reproduced work directly harms the copyright holder ultimately. Applying this to something as large as an AI model is difficult since the model itself is “only a tool.” AI corporations argue that those that use it bear copyright liability, not the developers.

Finally, the legal landscape surrounding AI and copyright challenges existing frameworks, especially as AI is evolving faster than litigation can provide an answer.

The RIAA may have to face a few of these challenges head-on. It will take a while, but the dimensions and power of this lawsuit is palpable.

The RIAA throws down the gauntlet

The RIAA claims that using music to coach AI models doesn’t constitute fair use, stating: “Fair use is just not possible if the result is meant to 'replace' the copied work. And Suno and Udio have admitted in their very own words that this is strictly what they intend to do.”

According to the RIAA, there is powerful evidence that Suno and Udio used copyrighted music without permission.

It quotes comments from a Suno investor who said“If (Suno) had contracts with labels when this company was founded, I probably wouldn’t have invested in it,” and Udio executives, who said their AI was based on “a considerable amount of publicly available and high-quality music” from the Internet.

According to the RIAA, the businesses were “caught” using copyrighted material because “producer tags” with artist names appeared within the AI-generated music.

Furthermore, it’s now largely irrefutable that the models could make music that imitates the unique.

Musician and AI music expert Ed Newton-Rex has also published analyses by which he found striking similarities between Suno and Udio's releases and hits by artists resembling Ed Sheeran, ABBA and Coldplay.

Newton-Rex wrote in Music business worldwide“I and others have found that Suno usually releases music that closely resembles copyrighted material. This applies to the general musical style, melodies, chord progressions, instrumental parts and lyrics. In this post, I’ll give some examples and explain their significance.”

Labels can use special prompts to get models to repeat songs as closely as possible, which can likely function key evidence on this case.

The RIAA is able to confront Udio and Suno on several fronts and is clearly optimistic. specification“These are clear cases of copyright infringement involving the unlicensed copying of sound recordings on a big scale” and “These lawsuits are vital to strengthen essentially the most basic rules for responsible, ethical and lawful development of generative AI systems.”

Another Pandora’s box opens

The complaints are piling up. Each one seems greater and more complex than the last.

Suno and Udio, valued at $125 million and backed by leading enterprise capital firms, at the moment are within the sights of a few of the world's most influential media corporations.

The complaints state: “AI corporations, like several other business, must comply with laws that protect human creativity and ingenuity. There is nothing that exempts AI technology from copyright or excuses AI corporations from following the principles.”

The RIAA's statement also includes the opinions of several influential industry voices who support the lawsuit. They don't mince their words.

Tino Gagliardi, president of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada, called this “a theft of our members' instrumental recordings – copied and exploited by artificial intelligence without permission.”

The Music Workers Allowance (MWA) made an identical statement: “These corporations steal our work to create sound-alikes, effectively forcing us into an 'apprenticeship role' that we never agreed to. Their dearer subscriptions allow users to commercialise the outcomes, putting us in unfair competition with an limitless supply of imitations of our own work, published with none attribution or recognition of our role in creating them.”

Music labels have filed what could be the most influential AI lawsuits of all time. Crisis talks are going down tonight at Udio and Suno.

The results may have enormous implications, not just for the music business, but additionally for the event and use of AI in other creative fields.


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