Music

Warner Music Warns AI Companies: Don’t Scrape Our Data

Warner Music Group (WMG) sent letters to tech companies this week instructing them not to use the label’s music to train artificial intelligence technology without permission. Sony Music sent out similar letters to over 700 companies in May.

“It is imperative that all uses and implementations of machine learning and AI technologies respect the rights of all those involved in the creation, marketing, promotion, and distribution of music,” Warner’s notice reads.

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It continues, “all parties must obtain an express license from WMG to use… any creative works owned or controlled by WMG or to link to or ingest such creative works in connection with the creation of datasets, as inputs for any machine learning or AI technologies, or to train or develop any machine learning or AI technologies.” 

The notices from Sony and Warner come in the wake of the AI Act, legislation that was passed in the European Union in May. “Any use of copyright protected content requires the authorization of the rightsholder concerned unless relevant copyright exceptions and limitations apply,” the act notes. “Rightsholders may choose to reserve their rights over their works or other subject matter to prevent text and data mining, unless this is done for the purposes of scientific research.”

If companies take this action, then “providers of general-purpose AI models need to obtain an authorization from rightsholders if they want to carry out text and data mining over such works.”

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The Cold War between the music industry and much of the AI world has been heating up in recent months. Labels are adamant that AI companies should license their music if they want to use those massive catalogs of recordings  to develop song generation technology.

Most AI companies, however, aren’t interested in paying. They often argue that their activities fall under “fair use” — the U.S. legal doctrine that allows for the unlicensed use of copyrighted works in certain situations.

In June, the three major labels sued two AI music companies, Suno and Udio, accusing them both of “willful copyright infringement on an almost unimaginable scale.” “These lawsuits are necessary to reinforce the most basic rules of the road for the responsible, ethical, and lawful development of generative AI systems and to bring Suno’s and Udio’s blatant infringement to an end,” RIAA Chief Legal Officer Ken Doroshow said in a statement.

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In a response to the suits, Suno CEO Mikey Shulman said his company’s tech is “designed to generate completely new outputs, not to memorize and regurgitate pre-existing content.” Udio said it “stand[s] behind our technology.”

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