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Music publishers ask court to halt AI company Anthropic’s use of lyrics

Photo: Anthropic

Three music publishers have petitioned a judge in federal court to impose a preliminary injunction that will ban the artificial intelligence business Anthropic from copying or disseminating the song lyrics that are the subject of their copyright protection.

On Thursday, Universal Music (UMG.AS), Concord Music Group, and ABKCO Music filed a motion asking the court to require Anthropic to “implement effective guardrails.” These guardrails would prevent the company’s AI models from reproducing or distributing the copyrighted song lyrics, and they would also prevent the company from using these works to train future AI models. The motion also asked the court to prevent Anthropic from using these works to train future AI models.

In a statement given to Reuters, Anthropic said, “While we can’t comment on the substance of the litigation, our focus remains the same: to build reliable, interpretable, and steerable AI systems.”

On October 18th, three different publishers filed a lawsuit against Anthropic, accusing the San Francisco-based firm of “systematic and widespread” theft of their copyrighted song lyrics. Anthropic is accused of using the copyrighted lyrics of “innumerable” songs without permission as part of the “massive amounts of text” that it collects from the internet to train its artificial intelligence assistant, known as “Claude,” to respond to human commands. The publishers say that Anthropic did this without their knowledge or consent.

The lawsuit claims that whenever a user requests Claude to deliver the lyrics of a song like “Sweet Home Alabama” or “Every Breath You Take,” Claude generates copies of the lyrics that are identical to or almost similar to the originals.

When asked a variety of questions, such as “write a song about a certain topic,” “provide chord progressions for a given musical composition,” or “write poetry or short fiction in the style of a certain artist or songwriter,” Anthropic’s generative AI will provide responses that even contain the publishers’ lyrics.

For instance, the complaint stated that Claude would supply pertinent lyrics from Don McLean’s “American Pie” when requested to create a song on the passing of rock and roll pioneer Buddy Holly.

Anthropic, the publishers claim, “profits richly” from its infringement of their repertoires of copyrighted works, obtaining a valuation of $5 billion while paying “nothing” to publishers or their composers. The publishers say that Anthropic “profits richly” from infringing on their repertoires of copyrighted works.

In a statement submitted to the court supporting the publishers’ request for a preliminary injunction, the publishers stated, “Anthropics must not be allowed to flout copyright law.” “If the court waits until this litigation ends to address what is already clear—that Anthropic is improperly using publishers’ copyrighted works—then the damage will be done.”

The publishers have sought the court for monetary damages of up to $150,000 per work that was infringed, as well as an order to cease the alleged infringing activity, and the court has granted both requests.

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