The largest music labels in the world are suing over copyright issues related to AI.

The world’s largest record labels have filed lawsuits against two artificial intelligence (AI) startups for alleged copyright infringement in a potentially groundbreaking legal battle. Sony Music, Universal Music Group, and Warner Records accuse Suno and Udio of engaging in extensive copyright violations by using their software to replicate music, demanding compensation of $150,000 (£118,200) per work.

Suno and Udio have not yet responded to requests for comment regarding the lawsuits, which were announced by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on Monday. These legal actions are part of a broader wave of lawsuits from authors, news organizations, and other groups challenging the rights of AI firms to use their creative works without proper authorization.

Based in Massachusetts, Suno launched its first product last year and claims a user base exceeding 10 million people who utilize its tools to create music. The company, in partnership with Microsoft, operates on a subscription model and recently announced raising $125 million in investment.

Meanwhile, Udio, also known as Uncharted Labs and headquartered in New York, has garnered attention for its app, notably for creating “BBL Drizzy,” a parody track related to the Kendrick Lamar and Drake feud. Backed by prominent venture capital firms like Andreessen Horowitz, Udio released its app to the public in April.

In past legal disputes, AI firms have argued their use of copyrighted material falls under fair use doctrines, which permit limited use without a license under specific conditions such as parody and news reporting. However, the record labels assert in their complaints, filed in federal courts in Massachusetts and New York, that these AI models are profiting directly from unauthorized reproductions of copyrighted songs.

“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,” according to the complaints.

Examples cited in the lawsuits include Suno and Udio producing songs like “Prancing Queen,” which allegedly closely resemble authentic recordings by ABBA. Specific songs referenced in the Udio lawsuit include Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” and “My Girl” by The Temptations.

The record labels argue that the AI firms’ activities are purely commercial and pose a threat to genuine human creativity protected by copyright laws. They emphasize that AI should not be exempt from adhering to these regulations and warn against the potential disruption of the entire music industry ecosystem through what they describe as “wholesale theft” of recordings.

These lawsuits follow a letter signed by approximately 200 artists, including Billie Eilish and Nicki Minaj, earlier this year, condemning what they described as the “predatory” use of AI in the music industry and calling for regulatory action to curb such practices.

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