In our age of technology, it can be hard to discern what is real and what is a “deepfake.” Deepfakes are photos, videos, or audio files that have been manipulated by AI technology so seamlessly that they seem convincingly authentic. While deepfakes are usually used for explicit reasons or to put Nicholas Cage’s face on nearly everything, Jay-Z is now dealing his own deepfakes. The rapper’s Roc Nation is reportedly flexing copyright law to remove a deepfake audio clip of Jay-Z singing Billy Joel and reciting Shakespeare from YouTube.
AI-powered videos have appeared on YouTube which uses a computer-generated text-to-speech model programmed to learn Jay-Z’s speech pattern. The technology resulted in a convincing clip of Jay-Z reciting Shakespeare’s “To Be Or Not To Be” monologue from Hamlet and another of him singing along to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire.” But Jay-Z’s Roc Nation is doing what they can to remove the clips through filing a copyright strike.
The strike was first spotted by The Verge, which reported that Roc Nation was using copyright law to attempt to get the videos removed from YouTube. Roc Nation’s endeavor to get a deepfake removed from YouTube by using copyright law is the first of it’s kind, as the lyrics to Joel’s song are protected under the law. According to The Verge’s report, Roc Nation also claimed that the “content unlawfully uses an AI to impersonate” Jay-Z’s voice.
Following Roc Nation’s claim, the videos were temporarily taken down by YouTube which, according to the report, would be the first time the video streaming service has removed AI-generated voice impersonations. However, the videos have since been temporarily re-instated because Roc Nation’s takedown requests were found to be “incomplete.”