Hit by Drake, the Weeknd Went Viral. It Wasn't Theirs

We have a new can of worms, courtesy of AI
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2023 8:48 AM CDT
AI-Generated Rap Track Opens New Can of Worms
Drake performs onstage in Toronto on Oct. 8, 2016, left, and The Weeknd performs during the halftime show of the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game on Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla.   (AP Photo)

A song that went viral on streaming platforms over the weekend appeared to feature Drake and The Weeknd trading verses about fellow singer Selena Gomez. But as Mashable reports, "Heart On My Sleeve" was both "very good and very fake." The AI-generated tune had actually come from an anonymous TikTok creator using the name Ghostwriter977, who said they'd trained software to clone the rappers' voices, the BBC reports. The "scary good" song "sounds like a legit hit from the duo," per Mashable. One TikTok user even claimed Ghostwriter977, whose account was viewed more than 15 million times, was "putting out better drake songs than drake himself," per Billboard.

Universal Music Group, which publishes music from Drake and The Weeknd through Republic Records, has since filed a claim of copyright infringement. The song (listen here for the time being) has already been pulled from Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, and Tidal, and is "in the process of being pulled from TikTok and YouTube," per the BBC. "The training of generative AI using our artists' music ... represents both a breach of our agreements and a violation of copyright law," UMG said Monday, calling on "stakeholders in the music ecosystem" to pick a side: "the side of artists, fans and human creative expression" or that of "deep fakes, fraud and denying artists their due compensation," per Billboard.

But an intellectual property (IP) lawyer tells the BBC that current copyright law, at least in the UK, "is nowhere near adequate to address deepfakes and the potential issues in terms of IP and other rights." Indeed, "a 'deepfaked' voice, which does not specifically copy a performance, will most likely not be covered and could even be considered a protected work in its own right," says Jani Ihalainen. That can't be allowed to happen, according to music industry adviser Tony Rigg. "Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this case is the undermining of moral rights," he tells the BBC. "If anyone can mimic you, your brand, your sound, and style that could be very problematic. It will fall to the law to provide a remedy." (More artificial intelligence stories.)

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