Sidhu Moosewala ‘Clash’ cover: AI-generated music controversy spotlights legal vacuum in India

Photo courtesy Sidhu Moosewala / Instagram

Sapan News Efforts by a producer in Denver to honour the memory of slain Punjabi rapper Sidhu Moosewala backfired after Moosewala’s family put out an official statement condemning the track – which Moosewala never actually sang.

Amarjit Singh, who wanted to respect the rapper’s legacy, took three weeks to replicate Moosewala’s voice using voice diffusion with AI.

Moosewala, considered to be one of the greatest of his generation, was shot and killed in May last year in his native Punjab.

Singh’s cover of Diljit Dosanjh’s pop hit ‘Clash’ by Moosewala’s AI-generated voice went viral on social media, racking up over a million views since April on Instagram.

Producing the song was “like a slap to the face of the killers” and was meant to “make [Moosewala’s] parents, who lost their only son, happy,” Singh told Rest of World, a digital publication that covers the impact of technology beyond Western countries.

Instead, the family requested that producers stop releasing AI-generated tracks using Moosewala’s voice. They condemned the AI-generated track and its dozens of copycats for doing “more damage than good” to the singer’s legacy.

The report by journalist Yashraj Sharma found “at least 38 such tracks across SoundCloud and YouTube, some of which had over tens of thousands of views.”

Singh has removed all related tracks from his YouTube channel.

The rise of AI has presented the music industry with enormous challenges, with AI-generated songs flooding social media platforms. Some are going viral, using the voices of famous artists such as Eminem, the late rapper Tupac Shakur, and Drake, among others. Large multinational music corporations have successfully got some of these tracks removed from popular streaming services, citing copyright infringement.

In India, where copyright laws are less established, AI is particularly threatening to the music industry. For one, AI will serve to reduce the already meagre payout musicians get by devaluing human labour. There’s also the worry that AI will dilute the quality of music, making everything sound the same.

The Indian minister for electronics and information technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw, has told Parliament that the government was not planning to regulate AI in the near future, though it will make efforts to standardise responsible AI use.

“It will be a convoluted situation in the court because there is no precedent for AI regulation,” Anushka Jain, policy counsel at digital rights advocacy group Internet Freedom Foundation, told Rest of World. “That’s why it is a disruptive technology and we are operating in a legal vacuum in India.”

– Sapan News

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