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S P Balasubrahmanyam’s Family Challenges AI Recreation of Singer’s Voice sans consent

The family of the late singer is seeking an apology, damages, and share in royalty and a one-to-one meeting with the movie officials.

Family of late Telugu singer S P Balasubrahmanyam issued a legal notice to producers and the music director of the film ‘Keedaa Cola’ for recreating the singer’s voice through Artificial Intelligence (AI) without permission, reported the Hindustan Times.

As per the report, Balasubrahmanyam’s son S P Kalyan Charan sent the letter on January 18, 2024 stating the family felt disheartened that his father’s voice was used for commercial purposes without their knowledge. The family is seeking an apology, damages, and share in royalty and a one-to-one meeting with the movie officials. However, Charan in the report said the family was surprised at the movie officials’ dismissal of their grievance and the suggestion of “a media trial as opposed to a legal approach.”

Can AI-generated voices threaten young artists? Charan said he was also worried about how the use of AI to recreate voices of belated singers would impact the careers of budding singers. This concern has been in popular discussion since popular music composer A R Rahman used AI-generated voices of late singers Bamba Bakya and Shahul Hameed for an upcoming Tamil film Lal Salaam. Some people on microblogging platform X, formerly Twitter, said the move may be legal but unethical in nature considering someone’s voice is part of a person’s identity.

On the other hand, Neeraj Roy, Founder and CEO of Hungama, said during the Mumbai Tech Week on February 18 that artists could clone themselves using AI before anyone else and use these versions to their own benefit. Roy said that doing so could save up on their time while helping them engage better with their endorsement requirements. As for guardrails, he suggested that AI could be democratised in a way that allows for ‘leasing’ of clones for a particular period of time. To learn more about this discussion, click here.

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I'm interested in the shaping and strengthening of rights in the digital space. I cover cybersecurity, platform regulation, gig worker economy. In my free time, I'm either binge-watching an anime or off on a hike.

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