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    Sony Music Group Queries 700 Tech Firms Over Unauthorized Use of Songs in AI Training, Warns Legal Action

    Sony Music Group (SMG) has written a letter to 700 tech firms including Google, Microsoft and OpenAI inquiring whether the company’s songs have been used in training AI systems, according to a BBC report. The world’s largest music publisher has alerted the firms that it will take measures to protect its intellectual property if it is discovered to be used unauthorizedly for AI.

    According to the reports, Sony Music stated in the letter that it had “reasons to believe” that the firms “may already have made unauthorised uses” of its musical property. The company has demanded that the firms send details of Sony Music’s songs that were used to train AI systems, how the songs were accessed, number of copies made of such songs, the status of the copies of such songs, and why such copies existed for the time they existed. It also stated that the copy could even consist of just a portion of a song. The company also said it is ready to discuss licensing terms for future use.

    Prohibiting unauthorised use of SMG’s works for AI

    In a statement on May 16, Sony Music said that while it is “embracing new technologies” like AI to support artists and their work, the company is concerned that the innovation might infringe upon the songwriters’ and recording artists’ rights, including copyrights. Sony Music Publishing (SMP) and Sony Music Entertainment (SME) and other affiliates of the company have declared that:

    “…except as specifically and explicitly authorized by either SME or SMP, as the case may be, each of them expressly prohibits and opts out of any text or data mining, web scraping or similar reproductions, extractions or uses (“TDM”) of any SME and/or SMP content (including, without limitation, musical compositions, lyrics, audio recordings, audiovisual recordings, artwork, images, data, etc.) for any purposes, including in relation to training, developing or commercializing any AI system, and by any means, including by bots, scrapers or other automated processes, in each case to the full extent permitted by applicable law in all relevant jurisdictions.”

    Universal Music Group vs. Anthropic

    In October 2023, leading music company Universal Music Group (UMG) sued AI company Anthropic for copyright infringement of lyrics of UMG-owned songs through its AI tool Claude 2, according to a report by The Verge. The company accused Anthropic of omitting copyright management information and engaging in unauthorised distribution of identical lyrics of UMG’s songs, including Katy Perry’s “Roar,” Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” and the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

    The complaint argued that there already exists a market for the distribution of copyrighted lyrics through a licensing framework, which ensures fair compensation to the stakeholders involved. It also alleged that the company has used the copyrighted works in question for training the AI tool.

    UMG alleged that Claude 2 in fact refuses to respond to prompts for only certain songs, because of copyright restrictions.

    “These responses make clear that Anthropic understands that generating output that copies others’ lyrics violates copyright law. However, despite this knowledge and apparent ability to exercise control over infringement, in the majority of instances, Anthropic fails to implement effective and consistent guardrails to prevent against the infringement of publishers’ works,” UMG stated in its complaint.

    In April 2023, UMG had also asked streaming services like Spotify and Apple to block AI services from using melodies and lyrics from copyrighted songs. The company had sent multiple requests via emails to companies urging them to block access to their music catalogue for AI developers involved in training the bots, and had warned of taking necessary action to protect the rights of the artists.

    Similarly, in April, over 200 musicians including Billie Eilish, Nicki Minaj, and Camila Cabello had signed an open letter asking AI companies to refrain from using their works, without permission, for training AI models, according to a TechTarget report. They also cautioned tech firms against using AI to obtain their voice and other personality attributes.

    Why it matters:

    The data used to train generative AI systems is a critical point of contention between AI developers and creators of online content. Major AI companies in the generative AI space, OpenAI and Stability AI, are already facing lawsuits for using existing copyrighted works without permission to train their AI products. While original creators and authors complain of copyright infringement and some demand compensation, AI enthusiasts have also claimed that there’s no law against using existing data for learning purposes. The question that still remains: To what extent can existing works be used for machine learning purposes without copyright infringement?

    In April, United States Congressman Adam Schiff proposed a new bill called the ‘Generative AI Copyright Disclosure Act’ that would require AI companies to disclose the copyrighted material they used for building their generative AI models. Similarly, the European Union had also proposed in April last year that companies launching generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT, will have to disclose any copyrighted material used for training their AI systems.

    Also Read:

    The post Sony Music Group Queries 700 Tech Firms Over Unauthorized Use of Songs in AI Training, Warns Legal Action appeared first on MEDIANAMA.

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