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Late SPB’s son issues legal notice for recreating singer’s voice through AI

Chennai: S.P. Kalyan Charan, noted Tamil singer and son of legendary singer late S. P. Balasubrahmanyam (SPB), has issued a legal notice to producers of Telugu film ‘Keeda Cola’ and its music director Vivek Sagar for recreating his father‘s voice through Artificial Intelligence (AI).

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SPB passed away due to Covid-19-related complications in 2020.

In a press statement, S. P. Charan 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.”

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He said that this was admitted by the music director in an interview to a YouTube channel and Spotify page ‘Permit Room’, published on November 28, 2023.

Charan said that this was a shocker to the family as no consent or permission was taken and that if such a trend of using AI for commercial exploitation continues in the industry, several present day singers and musicians whose livelihood depends on music, will be at peril.

SPB’s son said that a legal notice was issued on January 18, 2024, to the concerned parties for unethical and unlawful use of the late singer’s voice, seeking an apology, damages, and a share in royalties.

The legal notice had called them for a meeting to arrive at an amicable resolution.

Charan, however, said that he was “totally appalled at the tenor of the response” dated February 8, 2024, which not only dismissed the already-admitted fact of using SPB’s voice through AI but also deceitfully suggested a media trial as opposed to a legal approach.

Charan said: “We abstain from any devious methods to handle this matter and have no desire to precipitate this issue through a media trial and want to take this issue up legally.”

He further said that his father’s voice has a tremendous recall value, which was the reason why the movie-makers wanted to use it – even if artificially recreated.

He also said, “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,”

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