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Universal Music Group sues Anthropic for IP infringement Universal Music Group sues Anthropic for IP infringement

Universal Music Group sues Anthropic for IP infringement

UMG alleged that Anthropic's AI could output "original" music and lyrics that were almost direct copies of protected songs.

Universal Music Group sues Anthropic for IP infringement

Cover art/illustration via CryptoSlate. Image includes combined content which may include AI-generated content.

Anthropic, an artificial intelligence (AI) firm known for its Claude chatbot, was sued by several music companies over its inclusion of song lyrics in AI prompts on Oct. 18.

Those music companies, many of which belong to or are related to Universal Music Group, allege that Anthropic “unlawfully copies and disseminates vast amounts of copyrighted works,” including song lyrics, in order to create its AI models.

UMG noted that Anthropic’s AI models and its Claude 2 chatbot could be prompted to provide “identical or nearly identical” lyrics from various popular songs. It named The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows,” The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger,” Beyoncรฉ’s “Halo,” and Don McLean’s “American Pie” as just a few of the many songs with lyrics that can be produced in this way.

The music company added that Anthropic’s AI models sometimes produce song lyrics even when they are not asked to return the lyrics in question specifically. It said that requests to write a song, provide chord progressions, or write poetry in the style of a particular artist will, at times, return exact song lyrics as well.

Anthropic has not paid licensing fees

Song lyrics are widely republished on the internet. However, Universal argued that song lyrics are not freely reproducible simply because they exist online. It stated that other music lyrics aggregators are licensed to reproduce the lyrics in question.

UMG added that Anthropic “profits richly” by infringing on song lyrics. In addition to its fee-based services, the company has also secured partnerships and investments from major firms. The lawsuit noted that Amazon invested $4 billion in Anthropic in September, that FTX bought $500 million in Anthropic stake prior to its collapse, and that Google and Zoom have each contributed hundreds of millions of dollars more.

Universal said that, despite Anthropic’s financial gains, the company has not paid publishers, songwriters, or copyright owners. It now seeks to obtain damages and legal fees from Anthropic, including up to $150,000 for every infringed work. Universal also aims to have Anthropic disclose its training data and methods, identify specific scraped song lyrics, and destroy any copies of copyrighted works that it still possesses.

Anthropic had not commented on the lawsuit publicly at press time. Incidentally, Anthropic’s terms of use prohibit users from scraping its own AI model for information.

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