The Music Industry Is Raging Against The Machine In The Most Important Fight of Their Lives - The Average Joe

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    The Music Industry Is Raging Against The Machine In The Most Important Fight of Their Lives

    Noah Weidner

    June 26, 2024

    First, writers came for AI companies — alleging that they were committing copyright infringement. Then came the newspapers, voice actors, and coders. And now, the notoriously litigious music industry is shaping up to be the AI industry’s final boss.

    Rightsholder showdown: The music industry has always had a tenuous relationship with tech. Think: Napster, Spotify, TikTok. Now, after a viral AI-generated Drake song, legacy music businesses are again sharpening their knives.

    Sony Music ($SONY), Universal Music ($VIVHY), and Warner Records ($WMG) are suing Suno and Udio, two startups that allow users to generate convincing and high-quality AI music from text. The problem? Their AI models are trained on content they don’t own (insert Mira Murati frown).

    • The labels and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) want to “stop unlicensed use of copyright sound recordings” in AI training models.
    • They’re seeking damages of $150K per infringing work, a move that could bankrupt the two genAI upstarts — and set a precedent for others.

    The Day The (AI) Music Died

    AI companies have exploited third-party content to build multi-billion-dollar businesses with  complex AI models. OpenAI argues that this constitutes fair use, but if courts disagree, it could spell disaster for genAI startups.

    • In January, Oxford’s Alex Connock warned that losing these suits could be “catastrophic for the entire AI industry,” opening the door to more litigation.
    • As a result, many AI startups are now licensing content from companies and third parties — a hedge against the potential blunt impacts of copyright litigation.

    It’s never over: While the industry’s lawsuit could destroy AI music startups, RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazer insists that “The music community has embraced AI” for its potential to enhance human creativity. He encourages developers to work with them to build it in a responsible and innovative way. That’s just another indication that even creatives initially skeptical of AI recognize its ability to repeatedly destroy and reinvent the music industry.

    Read: AI Was Once Thought To Be The Disruptive, Transformative Technology Of Our Time, Now Investors Are Skeptical

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