Record companies Sony, Warner, UMG case AI music generators Suno, Udio

SAN FRANCISCO — The biggest players in the music recording industry sued two fast-growing artificial intelligence music start-ups on Monday, accusing them of using copyrighted songs to train their instruments, adding to the pile of lawsuits already facing the AI ​​industry.

A group of record companies including Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Records brought two lawsuits, one against Suno and the other against Udio’s developer, Uncharted Labs. Both companies let people create songs with simple text prompts.

“Unlicensed services like Suno and Udio, which claim it’s fair to copy an artist’s life’s work and use it for their own profit without acknowledgment or remuneration, retracts the promise of truly innovative AI for all of us,” said Mitch Glazier. The Recording Industry Association of America is a trade group whose members include Sony, UMG and Warner.

Generative AI tools such as chatbots, image generators, and song generators are built by ingesting large amounts of human-generated content. The record companies accuse Suno and Udio of using songs they don’t own when training their AI algorithms. Spokespeople for Udio and Suno did not return requests for comment.

As interest in AI has exploded over the past year, teachers, artists, graphic designers, musicians, and journalists have begun pushing back against using their work to teach AI technology. Lawsuits have been filed against AI companies like OpenAI by authors, comedians and newspapers.

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AI leaders generally say that using books, news articles and art to train AI falls under “fair use,” a concept in copyright law that allows copyrighted material to be reused if it has been substantially altered. But many creators disagree, saying their creations are being stolen to train tools that can be used to replace them.

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Suno and Udio allow users to create entire songs by typing in a description that includes the desired genre, lyrics, and types of instruments used. Tsuno blocks requests to create a song that reflects a particular artist. According to tests conducted by the Washington Post, when asked to create a song “in the style of Dolly Parton,” a prompt that mentions an artist’s name returns an error message saying it can’t create something.

But the principle does not always apply. To support the case, the plaintiffs showed several examples of AI tools producing songs that are nearly identical to real, human-created songs. A song created on Suno with lyrics from Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” and the artist’s name, AI created a song with the same rhythm and chorus as the original 1961 hit. Post was able to reproduce the same AI song in a test.

Udio doesn’t seem to have the same control, instantly creating a plaintive country song. Same speed.

Some musicians have called for new laws to protect their music or their style of music. In Tennessee, home of the Nashville music scene, legislators earlier this year renewed an old law that prohibits copying a musician’s voice without their permission. A bipartisan group of federal senators proposed similar national legislation last year.

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