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Universal Music sues Anthropic for copyright infringement over lyrics

Recording artist Katy Perry performs onstage during the Pepsi Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Kevin Mazur | WireImage | Getty Images

Universal Music sued AI startup Anthropic over “systematic and widespread infringement of their copyrighted song lyrics,” per a filing Wednesday in a Tennessee federal court.

One example from the lawsuit: When a user asks Anthropic’s AI chatbot Claude about the lyrics to the song “Roar” by Katy Perry, it generates an “almost identical copy of those lyrics,” violating the rights of Concord, the copyright owner, per the filing. The lawsuit also named Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” as an example of Anthropic’s alleged copyright infringement, as Universal owns the rights to its lyrics.

“In the process of building and operating AI models, Anthropic unlawfully copies and disseminates vast amounts of copyrighted works,” the lawsuit stated, later going on to add, “Just like the developers of other technologies that have come before, from the printing press to the copy machine to the web-crawler, AI companies must follow the law.”

Other music publishers, such as Concord and ABKCO, were also named as plaintiffs.

Anthropic was founded in 2021 by former OpenAI research executives and funded by companies including Google, Salesforce and Zoom. The company has raised $750 million in two funding rounds since March and has been valued at $4.1 billion.

In May, Anthropic was one of four companies invited to a meeting at the White House to discuss responsible AI development with Vice President Kamala Harris, alongside Google parent Alphabet, Microsoft and Microsoft-backed OpenAI.

In July, Anthropic debuted Claude 2, the latest version of its AI chatbot, and said the tool has the ability to summarize up to about 75,000 words — roughly the length of a 300-page book — compared to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which can handle about 3,000 words.

“We have been focused on businesses, on making Claude as robustly safe as possible,” Daniela Amodei, co-founder and president of Anthropic, told CNBC in a July interview.

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