Universal, Concord and ABKCO ask court for injunction to stop Anthropic’s AI from using their song lyrics
Music publishers ABKCO, Concord and Universal Music Publishing Group have asked a court in Nashville to stop artificial intelligence company Anthropic from using their lyrics via its AI chatbot Claude.
Last month, the three publishers sued the multi-billion-dollar-backed AI company for the alleged “systematic and widespread infringement of their copyrighted song lyrics”.
In a motion filed late on Thursday (November 16), the companies asked the court for a preliminary injunction to prevent Anthropic’s AI from using their works while the case proceeds.
UMPG et al’s lawsuit last month, which you can read in full here, claimed that Anthropic infringes their copyrights by “scraping and ingesting massive amounts of text from the internet and potentially other sources, and then using that vast corpus to train its AI models and generate output based on this copied text”.
The lawsuit seeks potentially tens of millions of dollars in damages from Anthropic and the outcome of the case could set a significant precedent for AI companies’ use of copyrighted lyrics on their platforms.
The accompanying Exhibit A document lists 500 songs that have allegedly been infringed by Anthropic.
In Thursday’s motion, obtained by MBW, and which you can see here, the companies claim that Anthropic is “engaged in blatant and widespread copyright infringement”.
“Anthropic violates Publishers’ copyrights, unlawfully enriches itself at the expense of Publishers and their songwriters, and causes irreparable harm.”
ABKCO, Concord and UMPG
The motion adds: “Anthropic has built its AI models and a multibillion-dollar business by systematically copying and disseminating copyrighted text, including the lyrics to musical compositions owned and controlled by Publishers.
“In doing so, Anthropic violates Publishers’ copyrights, unlawfully enriches itself at the expense of Publishers and their songwriters, and causes irreparable harm.
“Publishers seek a preliminary injunction narrowly tailored to address these ongoing harms and stem Anthropic’s infringement while this case proceeds.”
The publishers have also submitted a 38-page supporting Memorandum explaining the reasons why they believe a preliminary injunction is warranted.
In that document, also obtained by MBW, and which you can read in full here, the companies state that they seek two pieces of “interim relief”.
First, “Anthropic should be ordered to implement effective guardrails to prevent output that reproduces, distributes, and displays” the companies’ works.
Second, Anthropic should be prohibited from using “existing unauthorized copies or creating new unauthorized copies” of the publishers’ lyrics to train new AI models.
The supporting Memorandum also provides details of instances where the Anthopic’s Claude chatbot “uses the works in ways their writers never intended”.
In one example, the publishers say that Claude generated a mashup of Candle in the Wind and Baby Got Back “adding unsolicited elements from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John and Bernie Taupin”.
The publishers argue that “Claude does not do this by accident” and that “Anthropic has complete control over the data it provides Claude as input and over what Claude is permitted to generate as output”.
Elsewhere in the memorandum, the publishers say that “when prompted for the lyrics to each of the 500 compositions, Claude responded with verbatim or near-verbatim copies of the Works”. Claude also allegedly “copies the works even when not specifically prompted for lyrics”.
“The unauthorized use of copyrighted material is illegal and, in the case of copyrighted music lyrics, harms songwriters and music publishers.”
Matthew J. Oppenheim (in a statement issued in October)
“The unauthorized use of copyrighted material is illegal and, in the case of copyrighted music lyrics, harms songwriters and music publishers,” reads a statement issued last month by Matthew J. Oppenheim of Oppenheim + Zebrak, LLP, Attorney for ABKCO, Concord and UMPG.
“It is well established by copyright law that an entity cannot reproduce, distribute, and display someone else’s copyrighted works to build its own business unless it secures permission from rightsholders. Just like countless other technologies, AI companies must abide by the law.”Music Business Worldwide