Sony Music sends letter to over 700 firms over concerns they “may already have made unauthorised uses” of its music to train AI

Sony is reportedly asking companies to provide details of any songs it owns that were used to train AI systems, and how these were accessed.

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Sony Music has sent a letter to over 700 addressees including OpenAI, Google and Microsoft over suspicions they “may already have made unauthorised uses” of its music to train AI.

According to reports, Sony is forbidding anyone from training, developing or making money from AI by using its songs without permission. Allegedly, it has given firms a deadline to respond and says it will enforce its copyright “to the full extent permitted by applicable law”.

The BBC states that the letter consists of several pages of demands, in which Sony Music Publishing asks each of its recipients to provide details of these songs it owns that were used to train AI systems, and how these were accessed. It also asks for the number of copies made of the songs, whether these still exist or not, and how long they existed for.

Additionally, it also wants to know why it was necessary for such copies to exist for the amount of time they did, if the firms did in fact have these copies to start with. It also specifies that ‘a copy’ is also inclusive of just a portion of a song.

However, SMP has also reportedly said it is willing to come to terms on licensing agreements for future use. Currently, it is the largest music publisher in the world.

Though it is unclear whether or not any laws have been broken at this time, it is believed that the EU’s upcoming AI Act could change the current landscape when it comes to how AI systems are trained.

Nana Nwachukwu, a lawyer at AI ethics firm Saidot, tells the BBC that new legislation “will mandate that all general-purpose AI models… must comply with rigorous documentation and transparency requirements”.

“This includes the obligation to publicly disclose detailed summaries of the training data employed, adhering to copyright holders’ opt-outs, and ensuring that all data usage complies with EU copyright laws.”

Last April, artists including Billie Eilish, Jon Bon Jovi, Ryan Tedder, and Robert Smith signed an open letter protesting the “predatory use of AI” in music. Issued by non-profit organisation Artist Rights Alliance, the letter – titled ‘Stop Devaluing Music’ – warned that artificial intelligence has the potential to “destroy the music ecosystem” if left unchecked.

It also called for developers, technology companies, platforms and digital music services to “cease the use of AI to infringe upon and devalue the rights of human artists”.

The full letter from Sony Music Publishing does not appear to be available publicly, though it has newly published a declaration of AI training opt-out on its official website.

MusicTech has reached out to OpenAI, Google and Microsoft for comment.


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