Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission. The letter, which was obtained by TechCrunch, says Sony Music has “reason to believe” that the recipients of the letter have “may already have made unauthorized uses” of its content. 

Sony Music said that while it recognizes the “significant potential” of AI, “unauthorized use of SMG Content in the training, development or commercialization of AI systems” deprives it and its artists of control and “appropriate compensation.”

The company’s portfolio of artists includes numerous notable artists like Harry Styles, Beyoncé, Adele and Celine Dion.

Sony Music is seeking to protect its intellectual property, which includes audio and audiovisual recordings, cover artwork, metadata, lyrics and more. The company has not disclosed which 700 companies it is sending the letter to.

“We support artists and songwriters taking the lead in embracing new technologies in support of their art,” Sony Music said in a statement. “Evolutions in technology have frequently shifted the course of creative industries. AI will likely continue that long-standing trend. However, that innovation must ensure that songwriters’ and recording artists’ rights, including copyrights, are respected.”

The letter asks recipients to detail which of Sony Music’s songs were used to train AI systems, how the songs were accessed, how many copies were made and if any copies still exist, and why copies existed in the first place. 

Sony Music has given recipients of the letter a deadline to respond, noting that it will enforce its copyright to the “fullest extent permitted by applicable law in all jurisdictions.”

The move comes as copyright infringement is becoming a significant issue with the rise of generative AI. Streaming services like Spotify are flooded with AI-generated music. Even artists are dabbling with AI, as Drake faced criticism after deepfaking the late rapper Tupac earlier this month.