Music labels take on generative AI startups with new lawsuits

Plaintiffs including Universal, Sony and Warner allege that two AI startups generate sound-a-likes of popular recordings using copyrighted works.

Anne Steele (with inputs from The Wall Street Journal)
Published25 Jun 2024, 08:52 PM IST
Plaintiffs in the cases, which include the three largest record companies—Universal, Sony and Warner—allege that Suno and Udio. Image: Pixabay
Plaintiffs in the cases, which include the three largest record companies—Universal, Sony and Warner—allege that Suno and Udio. Image: Pixabay

Major music companies are suing two generative AI startups that allow users to compose new tracks using text prompts, alleging that they infringed on artist and labels’ copyrights in creating the tools.

Plaintiffs in the cases, which include the three largest record companies—Universal, Sony and Warner—allege that Suno and Udio used copyrighted works scraped from the internet to train models that underpin their products.

Representatives from Suno and Udio didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The companies have allowed users to generate sound-a-likes of recordings including The Temptations’ “My Girl,” Green Day’s “American Idiot,” Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas,” along with recordings by Chuck Berry and James Brown, according to the suits, brought by trade group the Recording Industry Association of America.

The suits also allege that the services have produced vocals RIAA says are indistinguishable from famous artists, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, and ABBA.

The lawsuits against Suno and Udio filed Monday are the latest in a stream of legal challenges related to how new AI models are trained on artists’ work. They are a sign of an intensifying fight between creative industries and Silicon Valley over emerging technologies that are transforming how consumers interact with art.

The cases seek declaration by the court that the two companies infringed on copyrighted sound recordings, injunctions barring them from using that material in the future and damages, including up to $150,000 per work infringed.

The case against Suno, developer of Suno AI, was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and the case against Uncharted Labs, developer of Udio AI, was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

RIAA Chairman and Chief Executive Mitch Glazier said the industry is working on AI tools that involve artist’s consent.

Universal last week announced an agreement with SoundLabs to allow its artists to create vocal models using their own voice data for training while retaining control over ownership and giving them full artistic approval and control over the output.

Universal has also partnered with YouTube to allow some of its artists—including country singer Rosanne Cash, composer Max Richter and rapper Yo Gotti—to explore the future of music royalties and creative expression as generative AI tools make it easier than ever for internet users to manipulate art.

Write to Anne Steele at anne.steele@wsj.com

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First Published:25 Jun 2024, 08:52 PM IST
HomeIndustryMusic labels take on generative AI startups with new lawsuits

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