Music Publishers Sue Amazon-backed AI Company Over Song Lyrics

Music Publishers Sue Amazon-backed AI Company Over Song Lyrics – Universal Music, ABKCO, and Concord Publishing filed a lawsuit in a Tennessee federal court on Wednesday, alleging that Anthropic, an artificial intelligence company, inappropriately utilized a vast number of copyrighted song lyrics to train its chatbot Claude. 

The lawsuit contends that Anthropic infringed upon the rights of the publishers by incorporating lyrics from over 500 songs, including tracks such as “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys, “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones, “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, and “Halo” by Beyoncé. The legal action alleged that Anthropic violated the publishers’ copyrights by illicitly reproducing their lyrics without authorization as part of the extensive text data it collects from the internet to teach Claude how to generate responses to human queries.

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The publishers also say that Claude illegally reproduces the lyrics by request, and in response to “a whole range of prompts that do not seek Publishers’ lyrics”, including “requests to write a song about a certain topic, provide chord progressions for a given musical composition, or write poetry or short fiction in the style of a certain artist or songwriter.”

As an illustration, the lawsuit mentioned that Claude would supply pertinent lyrics from Don McLean’s “American Pie” when prompted to compose a song about the passing of rock pioneer Buddy Holly. The publishers’ attorney Matt Oppenheim declined to comment on the litigation but said it was “well-established by copyright law that an entity cannot reproduce, distribute, and display someone else’s copyrighted works to build its own business unless it secures permission from rights holders.”

Numerous copyright holders, including authors and visual artists, have filed lawsuits against technology firms like Meta Platforms and the Microsoft-backed OpenAI for employing their creations to train generative AI systems. In September, Anthropic revealed a significant investment of up to $4 billion from Amazon. This lawsuit by the music publishers seems to mark the inaugural instance of legal action concerning the utilization of song lyrics by AI.

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It’s also the first lawsuit targeting Anthropic.  Anthropic has garnered financial support from companies like Google and Amazon, as well as a substantial $500 million investment from the former cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried. The publishers have requested the court to grant monetary compensation and issue an injunction to halt the purported copyright infringement.

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