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To curb the unauthorized use of its music to train AI models, Universal Music Group (UMG) is leading a lawsuit against Claude AI developer Anthropic, marking the first major lawsuit by the music industry against an AI developer. UMG is seeking $75 million in damages.
Joining UMG in the lawsuit against Anthropic are Concord Music Group, ABKCO, Worship Together Music, Plaintiff Capital CMG, and others listed as “publishers” who collectively accuse the AI developer of feeding the songs of artists they represent into its AI models dataset without permission.
“Publishers bring this action to address the systematic and widespread infringement of their copyrighted song lyrics by the artificial intelligence (‘AI’) company Anthropic,” attorneys for the group said. “In the process of building and operating AI models, Anthropic unlawfully copies and disseminates vast amounts of copyrighted works—including the lyrics to myriad musical compositions owned or controlled by publishers.”
Attorneys from Riley & Jacobson, PLC, Oppenheim and Zebrak, LLP, and Cowan, Liebowitz, & Latman, P.C. represent the publishers and have not yet responded to Decrypt’s request for comment.
In the 60-page lawsuit, posted online by The Hollywood Reporter, attorneys said that the publishers embrace “innovation” and the potential for the ethical and responsible use of AI, but accuse Anthropic of violating these principles and must abide by established copyright laws. The lwsuit included several instances where Claude AI was able to provide lyrics to copyrighted songs.
“Anthropic claims to be different from other AI businesses. It calls itself an AI ‘safety and research’ company, and it claims that, by training its AI models using a so-called ‘constitution,’ it ensures that those programs are more ‘helpful, honest, and harmless,’” the publishers’ attorneys wrote. “Yet, despite its purportedly principled approach, Anthropic infringes on copyrights without regard for the law or respect for the creative community whose contributions are the backbone of Anthropic’s infringing service.”
In addition to requesting a jury trial, the publishers demand that Anthropic pay the publisher’s legal fees, the destruction of all infringing material, public disclosure onf how Anthropic’s AI model was trained, and a financial penalty of up to $150,000 per infringed work.
The lawsuit against Anthropic is the latest legal battle between AI developers, writers, and artists. In July, comedian Sarah Silverman sued Meta and OpenAI for allegedly training their models on her work. Silverman’s lawsuit was followed in September when Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin joined other authors in a lawsuit against rival AI developer OpenAI, alleging that their work was fed into ChatGPT’s training model.
Anthropic has not yet responded to Decrypt’s request for comment.
“We welcome BandLab’s commitment to an ethical approach to AI through their accessible technology, tools, and platform,” Universal Music Group Chairman & CEO Sir Lucian Grainge said in a separate statement. “We are excited to add BandLab Technologies to a growing list of UMG partners whose responsible and innovative AI will benefit the creative community.”
Bandlab Technologies joined other companies and organizations in August—including SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, the American Federation of Musicians, the NFL and NHL Players’ Associations, and the Authors Guild—in the Human Artistry Campaign. The campaign’s mission is to ensure that AI technology is developed and used in ways that support human creativity.
“BandLab Technologies and our wider Caldecott Music Group network is steadfast in its respect for artists’ rights and the infinite potential of AI in music creation, and we believe our millions of users around the world share in this commitment and excitement,” BandLab Technologies CEO Meng Ru Kuok said in UMG’s announcement.
Edited by Ryan Ozawa.