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Tupac Estate Demands Drake Take Down ‘Taylor Made Freestyle’ Over AI Vocals

The Tupac estate sent Drake a cease-and-desist letter, demanding he take down his Kendrick Lamar diss, “Taylor Made Freestyle,” because it allegedly used an unauthorized AI-generated version of Tupac’s voice.

The letter, sent by lawyer Howard King and obtained by Rolling Stone, called the use of AI Tupac a “flagrant violation of Tupac’s publicity and the estate’s legal rights,” as well as a “blatant abuse of the legacy of one of the greatest hip-hop artists of all time.” King asserted the estate “would have never given its approval” to use an AI Tupac voice, and said if Drake did not take down “Taylor Made Freestyle” within 24 hours, it would take legal action. 

“Taylor Made Freestyle” arrived last Friday and not only appeared to feature AI vocals from Tupac, but also an AI-generated Snoop Dogg. Notably, Drake did not officially release the song on streaming services — where it would earn royalties — but just as a video on social media. 

Even still, King slammed the song and said it had “generated well more than one million this streams” and had been “widely reported in the general national press and popular entertainment websites and publications.” He added: “The unauthorized, equally dismaying use of Tupac’s voice against Kendrick Lamar, a good friend to the Estate who has given nothing but respect to Tupac and his legacy publicly and privately, compounds the insult.”

Should the cease-and-desist escalate to a full-blown lawsuit, it would be a major test of the legal limits of artificial intelligence and voice cloning. King’s letter alludes to one of the biggest copyright issues surrounding AI: Large language models trained on copyrighted works without proper licensing or credit. 

“It is hard to believe that [Tupac’s record label]’s intellectual property was not scraped to create the fake Tupac AI on the Record,” King said. He even demanded Drake explain “how the sound-alike was created and the persons or company that created it, including all recordings and other data ‘scraped’ or used.”

But King also flagged the song for potentially violating publicity rights laws, which allow for the protection of a person’s likeness. These protections, however, tend to pertain more toward improper use of a person’s image rather than any kind of AI-assisted deepfake technology (though there are various ongoing legislative efforts, including at the federal level, to expand the scope of these protections). 

Even still, King argued the use of AI Tupac on “Taylor Made” was egregious enough to run afoul of California’s publicity rights laws. He said the song created the “false impression that the estate and Tupac promote or endorse the lyrics for the sound-alike.”

King also made a point to mention Drake’s own efforts to clamp down on unauthorized uses of his likeness, including in the realm of AI. His letter references a legal effort from a few years ago regarding the use of Drake’s image “on a specialized business website with a small audience,” as well as the viral AI-generated song “Heart on My Sleeve,” released last year and featuring voice clones of Drake and the Weeknd.  

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“You personally are well acquainted both with publicity rights and the laws that protect them, and with the harm that unauthorized AI impersonations can cause to artists, including yourself,” King wrote, adding: Even more recently, no doubt with your approval and possibly even at your request, your record label took down a well-publicized AI imitation of you and the Weeknd with a great deal of news coverage highlighting how damaging the fake was to you.”

King, as well as reps for Drake, did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s requests for comment.

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