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Universal Music Group Takes Legal Action Against AI Company Anthropic for Copyrighted Lyrics Distribution

Universal Music Group, along with other music publishers, has filed a lawsuit against Anthropic for distributing copyrighted lyrics using its AI model Claude 2. The complaint alleges that Claude 2 generates lyrics highly similar to copyrighted songs, even when not prompted to recreate them.

In a significant legal development, Universal Music Group (UMG) and music publishers are taking on Anthropic, an AI company, for alleged copyright infringement involving lyrics generated by their AI model Claude 2. The lawsuit, filed in Tennessee, underscores the challenges posed by AI-generated content and its potential impact on the music industry.

UMG and music publishers claim that Claude 2, Anthropic's AI model, has been used to distribute lyrics that are almost identical to copyrighted songs. These include tracks like Katy Perry's "Roar," Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," and the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want."

The complaint highlights that Claude 2's generated results often contain phrases strikingly similar to existing lyrics, even when it is not explicitly instructed to recreate specific songs. For instance, a prompt about "the death of Buddy Holly" resulted in Claude 2 reproducing the lyrics to Don McLean's "American Pie" verbatim.

The lawsuit underscores that while sharing lyrics online is common, many lyric distribution platforms pay to license these lyrics. In contrast, Anthropic is accused of often omitting critical copyright management information. The complaint states that existing platforms have properly licensed copyrighted lyrics to ensure fair compensation and credit to creators.

The plaintiffs allege that Anthropic not only distributed copyrighted material without permission but also used such material to train its language models. This raises concerns about the ethical and legal implications of AI training on copyrighted content.

UMG emphasizes that it utilizes AI tools in its business and production operations. However, it alleges that Anthropic's actions constitute copyright infringement rather than innovation, describing it as "theft."

The complaint argues that Anthropic has the capability to prevent the distribution of copyrighted material and has observed copyright violations. Despite this, it allegedly fails to implement consistent measures to prevent infringement.

This lawsuit is a pivotal moment in the intersection of AI technology and copyright enforcement. It highlights the need for clearer regulations and ethical considerations in the development and use of AI systems that generate content based on copyrighted material.

Anthropic, in response to the allegations, emphasizes its commitment to trust and safety, rooted in its "constitutional AI" principles. This approach aims to train AI systems to adhere to a set of rules, raising questions about the responsibility of AI creators in preventing copyright infringement.

The legal battle between UMG and Anthropic brings to the forefront the complex issues surrounding AI-generated content, copyright enforcement, and the responsibilities of AI companies. The outcome of this case will likely have far-reaching implications for the future of AI in creative industries and its relationship with copyright law.

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