Sony Music Takes Action Against AI Companies for Potential Copyright Infringements

Published May 16, 2024

Sony Music Group has taken a significant step to protect its music against the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. The global company issued a 'Declaration of AI Training Opt Out' to make it clear that its comprehensive library of songs is off-limits for AI training purposes. This decisive move reflects the company's intention to guard the copyrights of its artists and their work.

Sony's Direct Notice to AI Developers

Sony's initiative included sending formal letters to prominent tech firms such as OpenAI, Microsoft, and Google. In these communications, the corporation has made it abundantly clear that its copyrighted materials should not be utilized by AI companies. The firm's action responds to concerns over AI technology's potential to infringe upon artistic rights by replicating the music of famous Sony artists like AC/DC, Michael Jackson, and Celine Dion to create sound-alike tracks.

The Position on Creative Rights and AI Tech

While Sony Music Group recognizes the potential of AI to influence the artistic process, they emphasize that it must not compromise songwriters' and recording artists' rights. This includes a clear prohibition of AI from engaging in text or data mining, web scraping, and other similar activities with their materials. Sony is not only setting boundaries but also demanding information from AI developers who might have previously used their content, asking for details on how the songs were accessed and the extent of their use.

Artists' Perspectives on AI

Some Sony artists have experimented with AI themselves; Billy Joel, Nate Smith, and songwriters for Doja Cat and the Jonas Brothers have engaged with the technology. However, as noted by songwriter Jessica Agombar, while AI can serve as a tool, it is not a substitute for the organic songwriting and producing process that includes imperfections and human touch.

Industry-Wide Actions to Protect Artistry

April showed a collective industry move where Sony, along with other major music groups and unions like SAG-AFTRA, established agreements to limit the use of performers' digital voice replications. These agreements require the written consent of the artist, separate from their main contract. Additionally, an assortment of artists signed an open letter with the Artist Rights Alliance to halt the unauthorized exploitation of their voices.

The Impact on Personal Brand and Identity

The British musician FKA Twigs addressed the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, highlighting the importance of protecting an artist's personal brand and creative rights against misappropriation through AI. She emphasized the human aspect of creativity and the unique identity each artist brings to the table, which must be defended against technological exploitation.

Sony, AI, Copyright