Copyright Infringement

Is it AI Copyright Infringement? Universal Sues Anthropic

A recent AI copyright infringement lawsuit brought forth by major music publishers against Anthropic, an AI company, marks a critical moment in defining the legal limits of artificial intelligence. The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, accuses Anthropic’s Claude chatbot of unlawfully reproducing and circulating copyrighted lyrics owned by Universal Music Publishing Group, ABKCO Music, and Concord Music.

Major AI Company Charged With Plagiarism

The case highlights not only what Anthropic’s chatbot did but also how it did it. Allegations suggest that the algorithm disregarded copyrights on lyrics and engaged in blatant plagiarism. Anthropic, despite being a prominent player in AI and having received substantial investments from companies like Amazon, Google, Zoom, and Salesforce, faces this legal action that could set a precedent in AI’s interaction with copyrighted content.

A Warning to AI Developers

The meteoric rise of Anthropic, which secured a $4 billion investment from Amazon and holds an estimated value of $5 billion, has drawn attention from the music industry. This lawsuit might serve as a warning to AI developers, signaling the music industry’s commitment to safeguarding its intellectual property against AI algorithms that might infringe upon copyrighted material.

Going After AI Copyright Violations

While concerns about AI infringing on copyrights aren’t new, this lawsuit against Anthropic stands out. It alleges not just the use of copyrighted songs to train the Claude chatbot but also accuses the AI of directly plagiarizing copyrighted lyrics, even when not prompted to imitate existing works or styles. This lawsuit signifies a significant escalation in addressing AI’s potential copyright violations compared to previous cases involving AI, like those against OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Damages Sought and Accusations

This complaint from Universal, ABKCO and Concord, which names 500 allegedly infringed songs, seeks $75 million from Anthropic, which is up to $150,000 for each infringed composition. The music publishers allege that the Claude chatbot not only illegally copies and distributes their published works, but that it claims authorship of generated lyrics, directly pulling them from the songs with no mention of the song title, songwriter or performing artist. They also state that the chatbot removes or alters copyright information, which violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In addition to the requested compensation, the plaintiffs are requesting the company’s algorithm and training methods. They are also demanding that all infringing material be destroyed.

Music Business Worldwide – October 23, 2023 – Daniel Tencer

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