Sony warns 700 AI devs, music streaming companies on content misuse

Song Music has taken action to warn companies about the misuse of its copyrighted material for almost any artificial intelligence (AI)– related purpose. 

On May 16, a letter surfaced that Sony sent to more than 700 companies, which warned and prohibited its music from being used for the training, developing or commercialization of any AI system. It also opted out of any text and data mining of its content.

“This letter serves to put you on notice directly, and reiterate, that [Sony’s labels] expressly prohibit any use of [their] content.”

The letter stated that Sony, along with the artists that it represents, “recognise the significant potential and advancement of artificial intelligence,” however, “unauthorized use . . . in the training, development or commercialisation of AI systems deprives [Sony] of control over and appropriate compensation.”

Sony represents some of the biggest music artists of today, Beyoncé, Adele and Harry Styles, among many others.

The letter was sent to developing AI technology, including some of the leading developers like OpenAI, Microsoft and Google, along with music streaming service providers such as Spotify and Apple Music.

Sony asked the companies to adopt “best practices” in order to protect artists and songwriters.

They warned against the scrapping and mining of data by AI developers without consent, asking the streaming services to update their terms of service to emphasize the prohibition of data mining and training on its content.

Related: Hollywood union deal with music giants guards against AI use

The letter told developers particularly that due to the nature of their operations and published information about their AI systems, “we have reason to believe that you and/or your affiliates may already have made unauthorized uses [of Sony content] in relation to the training, development or commercialisation of AI systems.” 

Sony made it clear that it is prohibiting the use of any “automated analytical techniques aimed at analyzing text and data in digital form to generate information, including patterns, trends and correlations”.

It then gave developers until the following week to provide details of all content used in training their models.

According to reports, Sony executives are already concerned that large amounts of their music has already been “ripped off” and are eager to clarify the first step of legal action to take place.

The music industry has been active in its fight against AI technologies taking advantage of artists or misusing copyrighted content – though it’s not just limited to the music industry. 

Writers, actors and others creatives regularly publishing work have already opened lawsuits or formed coalitions against major AI developers in an effort to gather leverage against their content being used in an unauthorized manner.

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