June 24, 2024
AI Developer Anthropic Fires Back at Universal Music Group's Copyright Claims

AI Developer Anthropic Fires Back at Universal Music Group’s Copyright Claims

In an ongoing legal saga that commenced in October, Anthropic, the developer behind the cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) model Claude, has issued a robust response to a lawsuit filed by a consortium of music labels, including industry giant Universal Music Group (UMG).

The lawsuit alleges Anthropic’s misuse of copyrighted works, specifically claiming that the AI developer “unlawfully” copied and disseminated copyrighted material during the training of its AI models. Anthropic’s comprehensive rebuttal was officially filed on January 16, challenging not only the merits of the claims but also questioning the appropriateness of the chosen legal venue.

Anthropic’s opposition firmly contends that the claims put forth by the plaintiffs lack validity and asserts that the case was filed in an incorrect court. The developer argues that the plaintiff’s assertions of irreparable harm are unconvincing and states that, in the right legal setting and at the proper time, the plaintiffs will have ample opportunity to test their substantive legal theories.

Universal Music Group, along with Concord Publishing and ABKCO Music & Records, initiated the legal proceedings, accusing Anthropic of “unlawful” use and dissemination of “vast amounts of copyrighted works” during the AI model’s training. Anthropic, in response, characterize these claims not only as an “attack on this new category of digital tools” but also suggests that they fundamentally misunderstand both the technology and the applicable legal frameworks.

Addressing a specific complaint about the use of its generative AI tool to generate copyrighted song lyrics, Anthropic asserts that its tool is “not designed to output copyrighted material.” The company even goes so far as to suggest that any such occurrence must be a “bug” that managed to bypass the implemented guardrails.

The initial lawsuit cited at least 500 songs by prominent artists, including Beyonce, the Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys, as having their copyrights allegedly violated by Anthropic’s AI. However, Anthropic strongly challenges these claims, stating that the music companies have provided “no evidence” to support their allegations. Furthermore, Anthropic argues that not even a “meaningful subset of users” beyond the litigating companies themselves entered prompts that led to the generation of copyrighted lyrics.

Anthropic emphasizes the unlikelihood of individuals using one of the world’s most powerful generative AI tools to access copyrighted material when such content could be more reliably and quickly obtained using ubiquitous web browsers.

Founded by former members of OpenAI, the organization behind ChatGPT, Anthropic has garnered substantial support from major tech players, including Google and Amazon. This legal dispute is part of a broader trend, with numerous ongoing lawsuits between AI developers and various creative publishers, artists, and companies over alleged copyright infringement during the training of AI models.

Notably, the industry has been closely watching the recent lawsuit filed by the New York Times against OpenAI, claiming that the model threatens its journalistic work by providing copyrighted information for free to users. As the legal landscape continues to evolve, the outcome of these cases will undoubtedly shape the future relationship between AI development and existing copyright frameworks.

Image by Joy Kennelly on Flickr

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