Updated February 16th, 2024 at 15:01 IST

Balasubrahmanyam's Son Sends Legal Notice To Keedaa Cola Team For Recreating Singer's Voice Using AI

SP Kalyan Charan has issued a legal notice to the producers of the Telugu film Keedaa Cola and music director Vivek Sagar for using artificial intelligence.

Keedaa Cola | Image:IMDb
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SP Kalyan Charan, a singer, has issued a legal notice to the producers of the Telugu film Keedaa Cola and music director Vivek Sagar for using artificial intelligence (AI) and deepfake technology to inappropriately recreate the voice of the late legendary singer SP Balasubrahmanyam. Balasubrahmanyam passed away in 2020 due to complications related to COVID-19. This was announced on Friday, February 16, 2024.

Singer S. P. Kalyan Charan sends legal notice to makers of Keedaa Cola

In a press release, son of Balasubrahmanyam, SP Kalyan 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”.  

Son of Balasubrahmanyam, SP Kalyan Charan, said that the music director himself acknowledged this information in an interview that was posted on November 28, 2023, to the Permit Room Spotify page and YouTube channel. “This shocked us for two reasons, firstly because no consent or permission was taken from us to use/artificially mimic the legend’s voice for commercial exploitation, secondly: if this trend of using AI technology for commercial exploitation in entertainment industry continues without valid consent or permission then even the present and future singers who are valuable resource to the music industry and whose  livelihood depends on their only asset, their voice, will be at peril.”

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In light of this, he said that a legal notice demanding an apology, damages, and a portion of the royalties was sent to the relevant parties on January 18, 2024, for the unethical and illegal use of the late SP Balasubrahmanyam's voice. In order to reach a mutually agreeable resolution, the legal notice also requested that they meet individually.

Son of Balasubrahmanyam, Mr. SP Kalyan Charan, expressed his dismay at the response dated February 8, 2024, stating that it not only disregarded the previously acknowledged use of artificial intelligence to mimic SPB's voice, but also falsely recommended a media trial rather than pursuing legal action.

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“We abstain from any devious methods to handle this matter and have nil desire to precipitate this issue through media trial and solely propose to take this issue up legally. 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,” he said.

SP Kalyan Charan quotes AR Rahman in his press release

AR Rahman, an Oscar-winning composer, was also cited by Mr. SP Kalyan Charan to discuss the proper use of artificial intelligence and the need for the families of the singers whose voices are being replicated by this technology to give their consent. As per reports, AR Rahman experimented with using AI to recreate the voices of two singers who had passed away, Bamba Bakya and Shahul Hameed, for a song in the newest Rajnikanth film Lal Salaam, but only with the singers' consent and proper attribution.

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Published February 16th, 2024 at 15:01 IST