Major Record Labels Sue AI Music Platforms Over Copyright Infringement

Udio and Suno face lawsuits from major labels, accused of training AI on thousands of copyrighted songs without permission

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

June 25, 2024

4 Min Read
Silhouette of hip hop singer on stage
Getty Images

Major record labels have filed lawsuits against AI music generation platforms Suno and Udio, alleging mass infringement of copyrighted materials.

The lawsuits, filed in New York and Massachusetts, allege the two platforms appropriated thousands of songs without permission to train their music generation services.

The legal action is being brought by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on behalf of members such as Sony Music Entertainment, Capitol Records, Universal Music Group and Warner Music.

The record labels are demanding damages for the alleged mass infringements and are seeking injunctions that would bar Suno and Udio from using copyrighted sound recordings in their music generation models.

“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,” said Mitch Glazier, RIAA’s CEO and chair. “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.” Funds AI Powered Music App That Generates Songs From Texts

Udio was founded by former Google DeepMind researchers and only launched in April, having secured backing from Andreessen Horowitz and musicians and Tay Keith.

The platform was used to create “BBL Drizzy,” the diss track aimed at Drake in response to the rapper's own AI-generated track, “Taylor Made Freestyle.” 

Suno, meanwhile, is a similar platform that launched in December 2023. The startup has a partnership with Microsoft that lets Copilot users create songs from text prompts.

Neither Udio nor Suno has disclosed the training data used to power its underlying AI. 

Both are now the subject of legal claims that allege they used “massive” amounts of music data to train the generative AI models powering their platforms.

“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,” the lawsuits allege.

The record labels contend that Udio and Sono’s platforms illicitly generate copies of music from iconic performers such as the Jackson 5, Jerry Lee Lewis and The Temptations, among a host of other artists having used their songs as training data.

They claim the machine-generated content could “saturate the market” that directly competes with human-created music and will “cheapen and ultimately drown out the genuine sound recordings on which the [services were] built.”

Related:Sony Cracks Down on Unauthorized AI Training Using Its Music Catalog

“[These services are] not exempt from the copyright laws that protect human authorship,” according to the complaints. “Like any other market participant, they cannot reproduce copyrighted works for a commercial purpose without permission. [These] services generate music with such speed and scale that it risks overrunning the market with AI-generated music and generally devaluing and substituting for human-created work.”

The lawsuits reference comments made by notable figures associated with the two platforms, which appear to support the alleged behaviors. For example, Matrix Partners investor Antonio Rodriguez told Rolling Stone that his company invested in Suno despite not knowing if the platform had deals with rightsholders.

Prior to the lawsuit filings, record labels were already being aggressive in actions against AI-generated music. Sony recently announced it would be cracking down on unauthorized use of its music recordings for training AI models. While Universal Music Group forced Spotify to take down thousands of AI-generated tracks last summer.

A prospective piece of legislation being brought by California congressman Adam Schiff would force companies to disclose copyrighted works that were used to train generative AI models.

Until that passes, the legal route is the only way for copyright owners to stop their work from being used to train AI without permission.

The record labels have now taken action against the two platforms, seeking damages worth up to $150,000 per work, as well as compensation for bringing the legal claims.

“These are straightforward cases of copyright infringement involving unlicensed copying of sound recordings on a massive scale,” said Ken Doroshow’s RIAA chief legal officer. “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.”

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ChatGPT / Generative AI

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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