The music industry sues Anthropic to mute AI

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The Future. After Anthropic’s Claude 2 chatbot was found lifting the lyrics (sometimes word-for-word) of over 500 copyrighted songs, Universal Music Group, ABKCO, and Concord Publishing sued… and they have a very good chance at winning. If the labels win, the lawsuit could act as a foundational precedent for similar copyright infringement cases in the entertainment and literary industries.

Lyric Language Model
The music industry’s lawsuit against Anthropic has a strong precedent in its favor.

  • Copyright claims in music focus on two criteria: whether lyrics, notes, or melodies are substantially similar (songs are so short that something copied is almost always considered substantial) and whether someone had access to the music in question.
  • When a judge rules those criteria are met, artists have to add copied songwriters to their credits to share in the royalty pool (and will likely have to pay damages).
  • But the practice is so common that many artists just happily add their inspirations to the songwriting credits to begin with (as Sam Smith did with Tom Petty on “Stay With Me”).

That brings us to AI. Allegedly, Claude copied lyrics wholesale, so the substantiality bar is met. And generative AI, by design, has access to everything it’s trained on, so that bar is cleared, too.

What Anthropic will likely argue, according to Axios, is that the generations fall under fair use, like a human remixing artistic inputs to create an original output — just faster because a computer is doing it.

Well, music publishers typically win against those cases, too, like in this shockingly similar lawsuit from a decade ago. New technology, same problem.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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