Music publishers sue Amazon-backed AI company, accusing it of ‘systematic and widespread’ infringement of song lyrics

  • Anthropic is being sued by publishers, including Universal Music Group Publishing.
  • The Amazon-backed AI company is accused of “systematic and widespread infringement” of song lyrics.
  • The suit was filed in Nashville Wednesday and first reported by the outlet Music Business Worldwide.

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The AI company that Amazon recently took a $4 billion stake in is being sued by a trio of music companies, which have accused the startup of “systematic and widespread infringement of their copyrighted song lyrics.”

The suit against Anthropic was filed in Nashville on Wednesday by Universal Music Group Publishing (UMGP), along with Concord Music Group and ABKCO. UMGP is part of Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest music company.

The news was first reported by industry outlet Music Business Worldwide.

Anthropic, which calls itself an “AI safety and research company,” was founded in 2021 by former employees of OpenAI. It has since become one of the fastest-growing AI companies, having raised $750 million before Amazon took a stake in it last month.

The suit said that the publishers were taking legal action because Anthropic “unlawfully copies and disseminates vast amounts of copyrighted works — including the lyrics to myriad musical compositions owned or controlled by publishers.”

The San Francisco-based company is accused in the suit of violating these principles on a “systematic and widespread basis.”

“Anthropic must abide by well-established copyright laws, just as countless other technology companies regularly do,” the suit added.

The publishers said in the suit that mass copying and ingestion of song lyrics meant Anthropic’s AI chatbots, such as Claude, generated responses from user requests containing all or significant portions of those lyrics in breach of copyright.

When Claude is asked for the lyrics to “Roar” by Katy Perry, the chatbot provides a near-identical copy of the song’s lyrics in violation of Concord’s copyright, the lawsuit claimed.

“Despite its purportedly principled approach, Anthropic infringes on copyrights without regard for the law or respect for the creative community whose contributions are the backbone of Anthropic’s infringing service,” the lawsuit added.

The AI company is also accused of infringing material under copyright even when not specifically asked to do so. For example, with a request to write a song about a certain topic.

The publishers are seeking a jury trial and damages of at least $75 million, although that figure could be considerably higher.

Matthew J. Oppenheim of Oppenheim + Zebrak, LLP, representing the three publishers, said in a statement, which was reported by MBW: “Just as Anthropic does not want its code taken without its authorization, neither do music publishers or any other copyright owners want their works to be exploited without permission.”

Amazon’s investment gave it a minority stake in Anthropic. The startup will use AWS cloud and Trainium, a chip purpose-built by Amazon to rival Nvidia’s processors and support the training of AI models.

Anthropic did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider, made outside normal working hours.

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Chris Johnston