(qlmbusinessnews.com Tues. 25th June, 2024) London, UK —

Major Record Labels Sue AI Start-Ups Over Massive Copyright Violations

The world's largest record labels are taking legal action against two artificial intelligence (AI) start-ups, accusing them of copyright infringement in what could become a landmark case. Industry giants such as Sony Music, Universal Music Group, and Warner Records claim that Suno and Udio have violated copyright on an “almost unimaginable scale”.

These companies allege that the AI software developed by Suno and Udio replicates music to produce similar works and are seeking compensation of $150,000 per infringed work. Requests for comments from Suno and Udio have so far gone unanswered.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced the lawsuits on Monday. These cases are part of a growing trend of legal challenges from authors, news organisations, and other groups questioning the rights of AI firms to use their intellectual property.

music labels sue AI over copyright

Suno, based in Massachusetts, introduced its first product last year and claims that over 10 million people have used its music creation tool. The company, which partners with Microsoft, charges a monthly subscription fee for its service and recently secured $125 million in funding from investors.

Udio, also known as Uncharted Labs and based in New York, has received backing from prominent venture capitalists, including Andreessen Horowitz. Udio's app, which launched in April, quickly gained attention for creating the parody track “BBL Drizzy” amidst a feud between artists Kendrick Lamar and Drake.

AI companies have previously argued that their use of copyrighted material falls under the fair use doctrine, which permits the unlicensed use of copyrighted works in certain situations, such as for satire or news reporting. Supporters liken machine learning by AI to human learning through reading, listening, and observing.

However, in complaints filed in federal courts in Massachusetts and New York, the record labels argue that the AI companies are profiting from direct copies of songs. The complaints state that the AI models have no functional purpose other than to generate new, competing music files.

The lawsuits cite examples of AI-generated tracks that closely mimic famous songs, including ABBA's “Dancing Queen” and Mariah Carey's “All I Want for Christmas is You”. The record labels claim that the commercial motive behind these AI tools threatens genuine human artistry and the core principles of copyright protection.

The lawsuits emphasise that AI companies must adhere to copyright laws and warn that the unauthorised replication of recordings endangers the entire music ecosystem. This legal action follows a letter signed by around 200 artists, including Billie Eilish and Nicki Minaj, calling for an end to the “predatory” use of AI in the music industry.

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