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‘Deepfake’ Music Start-up Voicify Faces Copyright Dispute


The UK music industry has initiated its first legal action against AI “deepfake” technology, targeting a start-up that produces songs emulating the voices of renowned musicians like Amy Winehouse, Rihanna, and Drake.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the trade association representing the music industry, has accused Voicify, operating online as Jammable, of copyright infringement. BPI alleges that Voicify unlawfully utilized copyrighted works to develop technology capable of replicating artists’ voices.

In response, BPI has issued a legal notice to Voicify and is preparing for formal legal proceedings on behalf of its record industry members, arguing that training AI with copyrighted material is unlawful.

Voicify, founded by Southampton University computer science student Aditya Bansal, has not commented on the matter.

Jammable, a service offered by Voicify, allows users to create artificial songs by blending the voices of famous artists with their own recordings. Users can upload their vocals, which are then transformed into tracks resembling those of various musicians.

BPI is concerned that Jammable’s technology, which utilizes users’ voices, may violate copyright laws by potentially incorporating elements of artists’ original works. Jammable offers over 3,000 models for replicating artists’ voices and charges users monthly fees ranging from £1.99 to £89.99.

Kiaron Whitehead, BPI’s general counsel, criticized Jammable for exploiting technology to appropriate others’ creativity without consent, creating fabricated content. Whitehead emphasized the importance of valuing and protecting musical creativity while ensuring fair compensation for artists’ efforts.

Gee Davy, head of policy and legal affairs at the Association of Independent Music, echoed concerns about unauthorized use of music, stressing its detrimental impact on artists’ livelihoods and creative collaboration.

Although Voicify is a relatively small AI firm, the UK music industry has become increasingly vigilant in safeguarding copyrighted material. Artists and music publishers have raised objections against AI tools purportedly imitating their voices or utilizing song lyrics without authorization.

Efforts to protect copyrights extend beyond Voicify, with music publishers pursuing legal action against Anthropic, a company accused of distributing copyrighted lyrics through its Claude 2 technology. Anthropic, supported by tech giants Amazon and Alphabet, faces allegations of unlawfully reproducing songs by prominent artists, prompting legal action from Universal Music Group and other publishers.

The dispute underscores the growing tensions between technological innovation and copyright protection in the music industry, highlighting the need for robust legal frameworks to address emerging challenges posed by AI-driven content creation.

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