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AI Music Generators Suno and Udio Sued by Major Record Companies Over ‘Mass Infringement’ of Copyright

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Suno Udio Sued - iMusician

Just recently, we reported on the huge investment boost received by the new AI music-generating app Udio. The company attracted a prominent group of investors, such as will.i.am, and Common. However, Udio, along with another AI music app called Suno, is now facing lawsuits from major record companies over alleged copyright infringement.

Recording companies vs. Suno and Udio

Both Suno and Udio have been praised as the leading apps in AI music generation, capable of creating entire songs based on user-provided text prompts. Yet, many have argued that the quality of their input relies heavily on using copyrighted music to train their models without proper authorization.

Now, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has filed lawsuits against these two companies on behalf of major recording companies, including Universal Music Entertainment, Universal’s UMG Records, and Warner Records Inc. On June 24th, two separate federal copyright infringement lawsuits were filed: one against Suno in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts and the other against Udio in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In their lawsuits, RIAA emphasizes that AI-developing companies, just like any other companies, must adhere to the laws that “protect human creativity and ingenuity.” “There is nothing that exempts AI technology from copyright law or that excuses AI companies from playing by the rules,” the plaintiff companies assert.

However, RIAA might have difficulties getting its point across in court, as there has yet to be a definitive ruling on whether using copyright materials to train AI models amounts to copyright infringement. Some tech companies, like Google and Anthropic (an AI start-up public benefit company), do not side with the record labels, claiming that this practice should be considered a ‘fair use’ exemption under copyright law.

However, music companies object that this exemption should not be applied to generative AI, as these tools can produce material that directly competes with the copyrighted material used for training purposes.

In a statement shared with the media, RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier emphasized that “the music community has embraced AI” and is working collaboratively with developers to “build sustainable AI tools centered on human creativity that put artists and songwriters in charge.“ However, such a group of developers should not include services with a mindset like Udio and Suno, which exploit artists’ work for profit without consent or compensation.

What’s more, the industry recording trade group has come forward with a claim that both sued companies have admitted to and been caught using copyrighted material in their training processes. “They left producer tags on their output. ‘CashMoneyAP’ and ‘Jason Derulo’ tags are present in Suno’s outputs,” said RIAA in its statement.

These claims have been echoed in forensic analyses of the music generated by both companies, conducted by Ed Newton-Rex, the former Head of Music at Stability AI. He discovered some striking similarities between the tracks generated by Udio and Suno and the works of real-life musicians, including Ed Sheeran, Oasis, Coldplay, and John Lennon.

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,” said Ken Doroshow, RIAA’s chief legal officer.

And many share this sentiment. The RIAA’s lawsuits are not the first nor seemingly the last of their kind. Previously, Universal Music Group, Concord, and ABKCO sued Anthropic, alleging that its AI-powered chatbot Claude plagiarized copyrighted lyrics.

Additionally, several book authors have sued Meta Platforms and ChatGPT’s developer, OpenAI, over copyright infringement of their books. They have claimed that ChatGPT and Meta’s LLaMa AI model have been generating works derived from their books without permission.

The outcomes of these lawsuits, including the RIAA’s new case, will largely depend on the court’s ruling regarding whether AI training on copyrighted materials falls into ‘fair use’ or, in fact, constitutes copyright infringement. The pressure from artists and music companies may eventually influence courts to side with artists and make decisions that protect human creativity and work.

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