SPB’s voice recreated through AI in Telugu film, family serves legal notice

A press release issued by SP Charan, son of SPB, said that he appreciated his late father’s voice being brought back to life but was disheartened as it was done without their knowledge or consent.
Written by:

SP Kalyan Charan, singer and son of the late singer SP Balasubrahmanyam (SPB), has sent a legal notice to the makers of the Telugu film Keeda Cola for recreating his father’s voice using artificial intelligence (AI) without permission. The legal notice was also sent to the music composer for the film, Vivek Sagar. 

According to The Hindu, a press release was issued by Charan which said that he appreciated his late father’s voice being brought back to life but disheartened as it was done without their knowledge or consent. The press release said, “While we really love how technology is used to its fullest potential to give his voice a posthumous life, the family is disheartened when the same technology is utilised without our knowledge, consent, or authorisation for commercial exploitation.”

SP Charan also mentioned that the music composer of the film himself had admitted to using SPB’s voice in a YouTube interview published in November 2023. The singer further said that this was “shocking” because no consent was taken and that this might take away opportunities from existing singers in the industry. The press release further said, “No consent or permission was taken from us to use/artificially mimic the legend’s voice for commercial exploitation. If this trend of using AI technology for commercial exploitation in the entertainment industry continues without valid consent or permission then even the present and future singers who are valuable resources to the music industry and whose livelihood depends on their only asset, their voice, will be at peril.”

Read: AR Rahman revives late singers’ voices: Experts weigh in on ethical implications

The Hindu also reported that the legal notice was issued on January 18 for the “unethical and unlawful usage” of singer SPB’s voice and sought “an apology, damages, and a share in the royalties.” The notice also called for a meeting between the parties concerned to arrive at a solution for the event. However, Charan also noted that he was unhappy and “appalled” with the tenor of the response given by Vivek Sagar on the YouTube interview which “suggested a media trial as opposed to a legal approach.”

Charan added, “My father’s voice is not only his asset, but also has a tremendous recall value, which is the reason, I believe, why the movie-makers wanted to use it – even if artificially recreated. Aside from this, we would like to register that we have huge respect and love for all our legendary singers, musicians and composers, both present and past, and we stand in solidarity in protecting the community from such unauthorised misuse/abuse of their late lamented skills.”

The singer further quoted music composer AR Rahman who said that technology is not a threat if used in the right manner. Recently, the Oscar winning musician received flak for using AI to recreate the voices of deceased singers Bamba Bakya and Shahul Hameed for a song in the film Lal Salaam. However, Rahman clarified that he had gotten permission from the families of the singers and were compensated as well. 

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute