Rick Astley suing imitator for "theft of voice"

Rick Astley gave permission to recording artist Yung Gravy to use the melody and lyrics from his 1987 hit "Never Gonna Give You Up" on Gravy's 2021 hit "Betty (Get Money)." But Mr. Astley says Mr. Gravy pulled a sneaky trick when he hired a singer to imitate Mr. Astley's singing voice, compelling him to file a right-of-publicity lawsuit against Mr. Gravy.

From The Guardian:

The lawsuit suggests that Gravy "conspired to include a deliberate and nearly indistinguishable imitation of Mr Astley's voice", with the intent to "capitalise off of the immense popularity and goodwill" of Astley. Astley's lawyers claim that Gravy's song caused "immense damage", given that Astley is "extremely protective" over his image and likeness.

Astley does not own the musical rights to the track; owners Stock Aitken Waterman granted Gravy and his collaborators the right to interpolate the track but denied a request to sample it, meaning that the rapper was not allowed to perfectly replicate any of the sounds on the original song, vocal line included.

"A licence to use the original underlying musical composition does not authorise the stealing of the artist's voice in the original recording," said Astley's lawyers. "So, instead, they resorted to theft of Mr Astley's voice without a licence and without agreement."