Sony Music Group Warns AI Companies Against Unauthorized Use of Content

In this post:

  • Sony Music Group, one of the largest record labels in the world, has issued a stern warning to artificial intelligence companies and music streaming platforms not to use its content without permission.
  • SMG has written to more than 700 companies, telling them they should not use its content without a license.
  • This is just one of the many warnings from Sony Music Group that copyright holders are taking to protect their content from unauthorized use.

Sony Music Group, which is one of the biggest record labels in the world, has sent a strong message to artificial intelligence companies and music streaming platforms not to use its content without permission. This step shows a looming problem of content creators and copyright holders on the use of their intellectual property in AI model training without getting permission.

Protecting intellectual property

Sony Music Group, which stands for artists like Lil Nas X and Celine Dion, has sent letters to over 700 companies warning them not to use its content without permission. This also involves not just the music and lyrics themselves but also the album cover art and metadata. Additionally, Sony Music is also sending letters to major streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple, asking them to adopt “best practices” in protecting its music from misuse and copyright infringement at the hands of AI developers by updating their terms of service.

In the letter, SMG stated, “However, unauthorized use of SMG Content in the training, development or commercialization of AI systems deprives SMG Companies and SMG Talent of control over and appropriate compensation for the uses of SMG Content, conflicts with the normal exploitation of those works, unreasonably prejudices our legitimate interests, and infringes our intellectual property and other rights.”

Sony’s initiative shows the ongoing tension between tech companies that are willing to use a lot of data for AI training and content creators who want to protect their intellectual property rights. AI models frequently need large datasets to enhance their accuracy and performance, and music content is a valuable source for such purposes. However, Sony’s message is clear: any use of its content for AI training without permission from the owner is not allowed.

Also read, “Researchers Warn of Potential AI Threat to Recorded Music

Legal and ethical concerns

This warning from Sony Music Group is just one of the many measures that copyright holders are taking to protect their content from unauthorized use. The legal system in the United States is still changing to fit these issues. AI technology undoubtedly has a great potential, however its fast development is beyond the legal protection for content creators.

The EU has asked the copyright owners to make public statements that they do not allow anyone to use their content for AI purposes without permission. Sony’s preemptive attitude is in accord with this advice and thus, Sony becomes a model for other companies to imitate. While AI is changing the way different sectors operate, the demand for definite regulations that are applicable and can be enforced becomes more and more pressing.

Industry and legislative responses

Some songs that seem to be using AI-generated vocals have already been found on the internet. The previous year, there was a song that went viral called “heart on my sleeve,” which was created by an anonymous musician who calls himself “ghostwriter” and the voice sounded like those of Drake and The Weeknd. It was promptly removed from streaming platforms due to a copyright claim by Universal Music Group.

Universal Music accused TikTok of not fairly compensating its artists and using “intimidating” tactics in deal renewal talks earlier this year. Just few weeks ago, the two parties reached a new agreement that includes “industry-leading” protections with respect to generative AI.

Also read: Universal Music Accuses TikTok of Replacing Artists With AI Music

This step is taken as the copyright infringement becomes a major problem with the increasing use of generative AI, this leads to streaming services like Spotify being filled with music created by AI. AI is also being used by artists, for example, Drake was criticized after he deepfaked the late rapper Tupac last month.

Artists are also demanding for the protection of their works from AI. More than 200 artists signed an open letter last month in which they asked the AI developers, tech companies and digital music services to promise not to use AI for the purposes that will “weaken or replace human artistry of songwriters and artists. “

The California Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, recently introduced a new bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would, if passed, make AI companies to disclose which copyrighted songs they used for training their AI systems. In March, Tennessee was the first state in America to protect artists from AI after Governor Bill Lee signed the ELVIS Act.

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