Too Little, Too Late? Sony Music Fires Off Blanket Warning Against the AI Mining of Its Catalog

Sony Music Unveils Joint Venture With Two Podcast Veterans
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Too little, too late? Sony Music has fired off a blanket warning against the unauthorized training of AI systems on its song catalog and other IP.

The overarching Sony Music Group today made that clear-cut announcement on behalf of Sony Music Entertainment (SME) as well as its various subsidiaries and Sony Music Publishing (SMP). Spanning just 350 or so words, the corresponding release begins by exploring the value of human artistry and the perceived potential for AI to prove beneficial by assisting creatives.

Getting to the heart of the matter in a 230-word second paragraph, though, Sony Music spelled out that it “expressly prohibits and opts out of any” unauthorized “text or data mining, web scraping or similar reproductions, extractions or uses” of its protected content by third parties for any reason at all.

Of course, the across-the-board prohibition, encompassing recordings, compositions, lyrics, artwork, images, and data alike, extends specifically “to training, developing or commercializing any AI system,” the company emphasized.

“This declaration reaffirms and is without prejudice to all of SMP’s and/or SME’s prior rights reservations and their respective legal rights, all of which are expressly reserved. SME’s and SMP’s rights reservations apply to all existing and future SME and SMP content,” Sony Music wrote in the warning.

Wrapping the curiously timed message, the company pointed to a pair of email addresses (aitrainingpermission@sonymusic.com and aitrainingpermission@sonymusicpub.com) designed to field inquiries concerning “AI training permissions and related issues.”

While the notice appears unlikely to stem the tide of unauthorized AI-system training altogether – about half a year has passed since Sony Music said it’d already sent some 10,000 deepfake takedown notices – it could be indicative of a more aggressive approach.

As many know, industry litigation is ongoing with Anthropic, and the AI giant’s CEO last month refuted the infringement claims at hand by doubling down on an often-heard fair use defense. And as part of its much-publicized reconciliation with TikTok, Universal Music said it’d obtained assurances relating to AI.

Bringing the focus back to Sony Music, it’s worth reiterating in conclusion that the major label in 2023 opted against joining Warner Music and Universal Music as participants in YouTube’s Dream Track. But SME is reportedly developing a “first of its kind” consumer-facing AI product, and the majors are united in their support for federal AI regulations in the U.S.

In late April, Warner Music head Robert Kyncl appeared before Congress in support of the bipartisan No Fakes Act.