Warner Music Joins Sony Music in Warning AI Companies Against Unlicensed Training: ‘We Will Take Any Necessary Steps to Prevent the Infringement’

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Warner Music Group head Robert Kyncl appears before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property on April 30th, 2024. Photo Credit: RIAA/Shannon Finney

Warner Music Group has officially joined Sony Music Entertainment in warning AI companies against mining its catalog to train generative models.

WMG forwarded the relevant notice to a number of high-profile artificial intelligence players, several of which are grappling with litigation over alleged copyright infringement. And that litigation centers mainly on the media, apparently including copyrighted works, used to train the underlying AI systems.

Digging into WMG’s straightforward “statement regarding AI technologies,” the major label began by reiterating the relative high points for artists before emphasizing a need to “respect the rights of all those involved in the creation, marketing, promotion, and distribution of music.”

And from there, the Robert Kyncl-led business in an over 80-word sentence called for “all parties” to “obtain an express license” before ingesting recordings, compositions, metadata, artwork, and even “graphic images.” Additionally, that firm requirement extends to protected name, image, and likeness rights, WMG drove home.

“All parties must obtain an express license from WMG to use (including, but not limited to, reproducing, distributing, publicly performing, ripping, scraping, crawling, mining, recording, altering, making extractions of, or preparing derivative works of) any creative works owned or controlled by WMG or to link to or ingest such creative works in connection with the creation of datasets, as inputs for any machine learning or AI technologies, or to train or develop any machine learning or AI technologies (including by automated means),” Warner Music wrote in the noted sentence.

Eliminating all doubt, WMG proceeded to spell out that it “will take any necessary steps to prevent the infringement or other violations of our artists’ and songwriters’ creative works and rights.”

And like SME’s initially mentioned warning, the message includes a dedicated email address (AIinquiries@wmg.com) through which team members can “speak to you about obtaining the licenses that you require.”

Though it perhaps goes without saying, it’s not a coincidence that both Warner Music and Sony Music have in the past month and change released statements warning against AI’s unauthorized use of their protected media.

Time will reveal the exact strategy at hand – besides the top-level attempt to prevent the theft of IP and lay the groundwork for additional legal actions, that is. Closer to the present, it’s worth highlighting some relevant remarks made by Microsoft AI CEO Mustafa Suleyman during a much-discussed interview.

“There’s a separate category where a website or a publisher or a news organization had explicitly said, ‘Do not scrape or crawl me for any other reason than indexing me so that other people can find that content,’” Suleyman claimed of the perceived instances where generative AIs cannot be trained legally. “That’s a gray area, and I think that’s going to work its way through the courts.”

Late last month, reports pointed to ongoing AI discussions between the majors and YouTube, which recently added safeguards for those depicted in unauthorized soundalike and lookalike content.