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AI startups are being hit with copyright lawsuits from world’s biggest music labels

Two US-firms, Suno and Udio, have been accused of committing copyright infringement on an “almost unimaginable scale”
  • Many artists see AI music-generation tools as a threat to both their livelihoods and creative authenticity in the broader industry.

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The world’s biggest record labels are suing two US-based artificial intelligence (AI) startups for allegedly committing copyright infringement on an “almost unimaginable scale”, the BBC reports.

The firms, Suno and Udio, are being accused of stealing music to “spit out” very similar tracks – for which they are now being sued for US$150,000 per song.

The “motive is brazenly commercial and threatens to displace the genuine human artistry that is at the heart of copyright protection,” the record labels said in the lawsuits – which were announced on Monday by the Recording Industry Association of America

AI firms have previously argued that their unlicensed use of creative output is legitimate under “fair use” doctrine, which allows copyrighted material to be used in scholarship, progression of the arts, and other non-commercial contexts.

[See more: AI is transforming tourism, but experts say there are ethical considerations]

Udio, for example, has said its system was “explicitly designed to create music reflecting new musical ideas.” It claims it had “implemented and continued to refine state-of-the-art filters to ensure our model does not reproduce copyrighted works or artists’ voices.”

The record labels, however, contend that these AI firms are simply copying songs to make money. 

“The use here is far from transformative, as there is no functional purpose for… [the] AI model to ingest the copyrighted recordings other than to spit out new, competing music files,” the filing read.

The lawsuits follow an open letter signed by hundreds of artists urging tech firms to stop developing  AI music-generation tools “that undermine or replace the human artistry of songwriters and artists, or deny us fair compensation for our work,” Billie Eilish, Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry were some of the letter’s big-name signatories.

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