Major Labels Sue AI Firms Suno and Udio for Alleged Copyright Infringement

Major Labels Sue AI Firms Suno and Udio for Alleged Copyright Infringement

The three major music companies filed lawsuits against AI music companies Suno and Udio on Monday, alleging the widespread infringement of copyrighted sound recordings “at an almost unimaginable scale.” The lawsuits, spearheaded by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), arrive four days after Billboard first reported the news that the labels were seriously considering legal action against the two start-ups.

Filed by plaintiffs that include Sony Music, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group, the lawsuits allege that Suno and Udio have unlawfully copied the labels’ sound recordings to train their AI models to generate music that could “saturate the market with machine-generated content that will directly compete with, cheapen and ultimately drown out the genuine sound recordings on which [the services were] built.”

“Building and operating [these services] requires at the outset copying and ingesting massive amounts of data to ‘train’ a software ‘model’ to generate outputs,” the lawyers for the major labels explain. “For [these services], this process involved copying decades worth of the world’s most popular sound recordings and then ingesting those copies [to] generate outputs that imitate the qualities of genuine human sound recordings.”


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“Since the day it launched, Udio has flouted the rights of copyright owners in the music industry as part of a mad dash to become the dominant AI music generation service,” the lawsuit against Udio reads. “Neither Udio, nor any other generative AI company, can be allowed to advance toward this goal by trampling the rights of copyright owners.”

The lawsuit is seeking both an injunction to bar the companies from continuing to train on the copyrighted songs, as well as damages from the infringements that have already taken place. Neither Suno nor Udio immediately returned requests for comment on Monday.

Suno and Udio have quickly become two of the most advanced and important players in the emerging field of generative AI music. While many competitors only create instrumentals or lyrics or vocals, Suno and Udio can generate all three in the click of a button with shocking precision. Udio has already produced what could be considered the first AI-generated hit song with the Drake diss track “BBL Drizzy,” which was generated on the platform by comedian King Willonius and popularized by a Metro Boomin remix. Suno has also achieved early success since its December 2023 launch, raising $125 million in funding from investors like Lightspeed Venture Partners, Matrix, Nat Friedman and Daniel Gross.

Both companies have declined to comment on whether or not unlicensed copyrights were part of their datasets. In a previous interview with Billboard, Udio co-founder David Ding said simply that the company trained on “good music.” However, in a series of articles for Music Business Worldwide, founder of AI music safety nonprofit Fairly Trained, Ed Newton-Rex, found that he was able to generate music from Suno and Udio that “bears a striking resemblance to copyrighted music. This is true across melody, chords, style and lyrics,” he wrote.

The complaints against the two companies also make the case that copyrighted material was used to train these models. Some of the circumstantial evidence cited in the lawsuits include generated songs by Suno and Udio that sound just like the voices of Bruce Springsteen, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Michael Jackson and ABBA; outputs that parrot the producer tags of Cash Money AP and Jason Derulo; and outputs that sound nearly identical to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” The Beach Boys’ “I Get Around,” ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” The Temptations’ “My Girl,” Green Day’s “American Idiot,” and more.


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In a recent Rolling Stone profile of Suno, investor Antonio Rodriguez admitted that the start-up does not have licenses for whatever music it has trained on but added that it was not a concern to him. Knowing that labels and publishers could sue was just “the risk we had to underwrite when we invested in the company, because we’re the fat wallet that will get sued right behind these guys… Honestly, if we had deals with labels when this company got started, I probably wouldn’t have invested in it. I think that they needed to make this product without the constraints.”

Many AI companies argue that training is protected by copyright’s fair use doctrine — an important rule that allows people to reuse protected works without breaking the law. Though fair use has historically allowed for things like news reporting and parody, AI firms say it applies equally to the “intermediate” use of millions of works to build a machine that spits out entirely new creations.

Anticipating that defense from Suno and Udio, the lawyers for the major labels argue that “[Suno and Udio] cannot avoid liability for [their] willful copyright infringement by claiming fair use. The doctrine of fair use promotes human expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyrighted works in certain, limited circumstances, but [the services] offe[r] imitative machine-generated music—not human creativity or expression.”

News of the complaints filed against Suno and Udio follow up a previous lawsuit that also concerned the use of copyrighted materials to train models without a license. Filed by UMG, Concord and ABKCO in October against Anthropic, a major AI company, that case focused more specifically on copied lyrics.

In a statement about the lawsuits, RIAA CEO and chairman Mitch Glazier says, “The music community has embraced AI and we are already partnering and collaborating with responsible developers to build sustainable AI tools centered on human creativity that put artists and songwriters in charge. But we can only succeed if developers are willing to work together with us. Unlicensed services like Suno and Udio that claim it’s ‘fair’ to copy an artist’s life’s work and exploit it for their own profit without consent or pay set back the promise of genuinely innovative AI for us all.”

RIAA Chief Legal Officer Ken Doroshow adds, “These are straightforward cases of copyright infringement involving unlicensed copying of sound recordings on a massive scale. Suno and Udio are attempting to hide the full scope of their infringement rather than putting their services on a sound and lawful footing. These lawsuits are necessary to reinforce the most basic rules of the road for the responsible, ethical, and lawful development of generative AI systems and to bring Suno’s and Udio’s blatant infringement to an end.”