May 23, 2024

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Tupac's estate threatens to sue Drake over artificial intelligence-generated fake vocals

Tupac's estate threatens to sue Drake over artificial intelligence-generated fake vocals

Tupac Shakur's estate is threatening to sue Drake over a recent song against Kendrick Lamar that included an AI-generated version of the late rapper's voice, calling it a “flagrant violation” of the law and a “blatant misuse” of his legacy.

In Wednesday's cease and desist letter obtained exclusively from paintingsue Howard King Drake (Aubrey Drake) tells Graham that he must confirm that he will withdraw his “Taylor Made Freestyle” in less than 24 hours or the estate will “pursue all legal remedies” against him.

“The family is deeply appalled and disappointed by your unauthorized use of Tupac’s voice and personality,” King wrote in the letter. “Not only is the recording a blatant violation of Tupac's publicity and legal rights of the Estate, it is also a blatant abuse of the legacy of one of the greatest hip-hop artists of all time. The Estate would not have given its consent to this use.”

Drake released “Taylor Made” on Friday, marking the latest chapter in the back-and-forth war of words between the Canadian rapper and Lamar. Along with photo shoots of Kendrick and Taylor Swift, the song made headlines for its notable use of AI technology to create fake verses from Tupac and Snoop Dogg — two West Coast legends that Los Angeles-based Lamar idolizes.

“Kendrick, we need you, West Coast savior/Engrave your name in some hip-hop history,” Tupac raps in Drake's AI-generated song. “If you take this too hard/You'll seem a little nervous about all the publicity.”

In a letter on Tuesday, Tupac's estate warned Drake that using his voice clearly violates Tupac's so-called rights of publicity — the legal authority to control how others use your image or likeness. They specifically ruled out using his voice to fire Lamar.

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“The unauthorized and equally shocking use of Tupac’s voice against Kendrick Lamar, a good friend of the estate who has given nothing but respect to Tupac and his legacy publicly and privately, compounds the insult,” King wrote.

A rep for Drake declined to comment on Shakur's estate claims.

It is unclear whether Snoop Dogg, whose voice is also featured on “Taylor Made,” plans to raise similar legal objections to Drake's track. On Saturday, he posted a video on social media in which he appeared to be learning the song for the first time: “They did what? when? how? Are you sure?” A rep for Snoop Dogg did not return a request for comment.

The unauthorized use of audio cloning technology has become one of the thorny legal topics in the music industry, as AI-powered tools make it easier than ever to convincingly imitate real artists.

The issue exploded onto the scene last year, when an anonymous artist named Ghostwriter released a song called “Heart On My Sleeve” that ironically included fake verses of Drake’s voice. Since then, as audio cloning has spread on the Internet, industry groups, legal experts and lawmakers have debated how best to eliminate it.

It's not as simple as it may seem. It is difficult to enforce federal copyrights directly, since cloned songs usually contain new lyrics and music that differ from existing copyrighted songs. The rights of publicity cited by the estate are better suited because they protect someone's image in their own right, but they have historically been used to sue for advertising, not for creative works like songs.

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Faced with this legal uncertainty, the recording industry and major artists have lobbied for new legislation to address the problem. Last month, Tennessee passed a law called the ELVIS Act that aims to crack down on audio cloning by expanding the state's right of publicity laws beyond just advertising. Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are also considering similar bills that would create new, broader publicity rights at the federal level.

However, in a letter Wednesday, the foundation said California's current right of publicity laws clearly prohibit something as blatant as Drake's use of Tupac's voice in “Taylor Made.” King argued that the song caused “significant economic and reputational harm” by creating “the false impression that the estate and Tupac are promoting or endorsing similar lyrics.”

The estate also claimed that the song was likely created using an AI model that infringed the estate's copyright by “training” on existing recordings of Tupac's music. The legality of using copyrighted “input” is another difficult legal issue currently being tested in several closely watched lawsuits against AI developers, including one brought by major music publishers.

“It's hard to believe [Tupac’s record label]“The intellectual property of Tupac AI to create the fake Tupac AI in the record was not expropriated,” King wrote, before also demanding that Drake provide “a detailed explanation of how the lookalike was created and the person or company that created it, including all recordings and other data” “scanned.” Or use it.”

Wednesday's message also clearly highlighted that Drake himself has previously expressed objections to others using his private image. In addition to last year's incident surrounding the song “Heart on My Sleeve” — which was quickly deleted from the Internet — King pointed to a lesser-known federal lawsuit in which Drake's lawyers accused a website of using his image without permission.

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“the [“Taylor Made Freestyle”] “It has generated over a million streams at this point and has been widely syndicated in national general press and popular entertainment websites and publications,” the property wrote. “Without a doubt, it is significantly more dangerous and harmful than your photo with some other people on a low-volume website.”

In its concluding paragraphs, the letter requested written confirmation by Thursday afternoon that Drake's representatives are “urgently taking all necessary steps to remove him.”

“If we comply, the estate will consider whether informal negotiations to resolve this matter make sense,” King wrote. “If you do not comply, our client has authorized this company to pursue all legal remedies including, but not limited to, an infringement claim…punitive damages and attorneys' fees.”