Jay-Z heard rapping Hamlet, Billy Joel in 'deepfake' video, threatens legal action against YouTube channel

Jay-Z's Roc Nation complained that the videos in question were 'unlawfully [using] an AI to impersonate our client’s voice'


                            Jay-Z heard rapping Hamlet, Billy Joel in 'deepfake' video, threatens legal action against YouTube channel
Jay-Z (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Deepfakes aren't new and have been named as such because its creators use a form of artificial intelligence to generate fake videos of whoever they would like to target.

It is obvious why stars in Hollywood are extremely vulnerable to be victims of deepfakes and, in most recent news, rapper and mogul Jay-Z has become a victim of a YouTube channel called Vocal Synthesis.

Jay-Z's company, Roc Nation, has taken legal action against the channel for creating deepfake videos that mimicked the rapper's voice.

The mogul's company filed "takedown notices" against two videos that were created by the channel that made it seem as if Jay-Z was rapping Billy Joel's 'We Didn’t Start the Fire' and Hamlet's 'To be or not to be' soliloquy, according to a report by The Guardian on April 29. The videos were reportedly taken down but are now back up.

Deepfake videos are created by a computer being fed a certain algorithm and countless images of the person being targeted. The computer is then able to learn how to mimic the targeted individual's expressions, mannerisms, voice and inflections.

With enough accounts of videos and audios of the target individual, one can create a fake video of the targeted individual with any type of audio — a daunting expectation from big names such as Jay-Z.

The anonymous creator of Vocal Synthesis released a statement in response that said, "The Jay-Z videos are back up now, and my copyright strike has been removed! I'm not sure exactly what happened; I guess either YouTube reversed its decision or Roc Nation dropped its claim. Thanks a lot to everyone who publicized this!"

The channel claimed that the videos that Jay-Z was taking legal action against are "entirely computer-generated using a text-to-speech model trained on the speech patterns of Jay-Z."

Jay-Z's Roc Nation complained that the videos in question were "unlawfully [using] an AI to impersonate our client’s voice" to which Vocal Synthesis responded that the videos have "no malicious purpose"  mimicking the voices of former President Barack Obama and POTUS Donald Trump.

The channel also mentioned that the creator was "disappointed that Jay-Z and Roc Nation have decided to bully a small YouTuber this way."

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