Anthropic, a leading artificial intelligence (AI) firm known for its Claude chatbot, was sued by several music companies on October 18th. The plaintiffs, which include Universal Music Group and its affiliates, allege that Anthropic “unlawfully copies and disseminates vast amounts of copyrighted works,” including song lyrics, in order to train its AI models.
The lawsuit claims that Anthropic’s AI models can be prompted to generate “identical or nearly identical” lyrics from copyrighted songs. As examples, the plaintiffs cite The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows,” The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger,” Beyoncé’s “Halo,” and Don McLean’s “American Pie.”
The plaintiffs also allege that Anthropic’s AI models can generate copyrighted song lyrics even when they are not explicitly prompted to do so. For example, they claim that requests to write a song, provide chord progressions, or write poetry in the style of a particular artist can sometimes result in the generation of copyrighted lyrics. The plaintiffs argue that Anthropic’s use of copyrighted song lyrics is not protected by fair use. They contend that Anthropic’s use of the lyrics is commercial in nature, that the lyrics are not transformative, and that the use of the lyrics harms the market for the original works. The plaintiffs are seeking damages, including up to $150,000 for each infringed work. They are also seeking an injunction to prevent Anthropic from further infringing their copyrights.