In an article for The Hollywood Reporter, Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys Tatjana Paterno, Layna Deneen, Emily Burrows, Paige Mills and Megan Smit examine the influence of artificial intelligence (AI) in the music industry. In the article, the attorneys closely outline a case involving three major music publishers that are engaged in a legal battle with Anthropic – an AI company funded by tech giants like Google, Amazon, Zoom and Salesforce – over alleged infringement of copyrighted song lyrics.

The group’s article highlights the music industry’s concern around AI companies benefiting from copyrighted song lyrics without having a license to reproduce and distribute them. In their complaint, the music publishers alleged that Anthropic’s product, the Claude chatbot, generates song lyrics which “contain all or significant portions” of copyrighted lyrics.

Within the article, the attorneys consider the various legal doctrines at play, as well as potential ramifications following the decision in this case. Among those considerations include:

  • Anthropic is likely to use the fair use doctrine in their defense, arguing that the chatbot’s output is transformative in some way (and thus they are not infringing on the music publishers’ copyrights).
  • Since AI’s interaction with the music industry is so new, there are no bright-line rules for Anthropic to argue fair use.
  • Fair use is difficult to establish when the defendant is commercially benefiting or destroying the market for the copyright owner’s work.
  • Licensing may be overly onerous and restrict AI development, necessitating regulatory framework like the kind being developed by the European Union (EU).

The Anthropic case will be one to watch as it could determine if using copyrighted materials to train AI technologies is legal, and if the AI output constitutes fair use or requires further legislation.

The full article, “AI Threats Emerge in Music Publishers’ Battle with Big Tech,” was published by The Hollywood Reporter on January 5 and is available online.