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The Guardian has recently reported that the famous rapper has filed through his agency Roc Nation, several takedown notices against videos edited with artificial intelligence, or known as “deepfake” videos, that make him appear to rap songs not written by the singer himself.

The videos, which were created and published onto Youtube by an anonymous creator known as Vocal Synthesis, has been reported to say that copyright notices were filed by Roc Nation, stating: “This content unlawfully uses an AI to impersonate our client’s voice.”

In response to the notice, Vocal Synthesis published a statement – through artificially synthesized voices of former US President Barack Obama and Donald Trump, declared that there was no malicious intent for creating and publishing the videos, and solely for educational and entertainment purposes only.

2 days after the statement was published, Vocal Synthesis released an update in the video statement stating that the Jay-Z videos that were taken down is back online, and hinted at the possibility that the copyright claim has been dropped.

New IP Challenges Arising from Technology?

Deepfake (a portmanteau of deep learning and fake) video editing uses artificial intelligence technology to alter images, videos, and even audio, creating doctored outputs that cannot be easily distinguished from the originals. While this technology still remains in university research labs and curious amateur programmers, it has already raised concerns with legislators and politicians worried about words inserted into their mouths in a literal sense.

To date, Californian lawmakers have passed a law that bans “videos, images, or audio of politicians doctored to resemble real footage within 60 days of an election.” as a preventative measure for the upcoming US elections, but enforcing this law is believed to be difficult.

The Guardian has also reported that Facebook has announced a new policy banning AI-manipulated “deepfake” videos that are likely to mislead viewers. However, the report also notes that the policy is explicitly targeted at “deepfakes”, and does not cover videos that are doctored using conventional tools.

Canadian law firm McMillan, notes that Canadian copyright laws state that the copyright owner has the sole right to produce or reproduce a work in any material form, and has moral rights, or the right to the integrity of the work, and this right is infringed where the work is distorted, mutilated, or otherwise modified. In their article, the owner of the video, as well as the owner of the photo which is used to transplant onto the video, may be able to seek injunctions, damages, and court orders to have the deepfakes destroyed.

While the Jay-Z suit might not have any visible impact on Deepfakes or AI-generated media, it remind us of the fact that our existing laws are struggling to catch up to technology.

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