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Voice Actors Sue AI Company, Claiming It Stole Their Voices

Picture originally from the New York Times

Voice actors Linnea Sage and Paul Skye Lehrman are suing AI company Lovo for using their voices without their permission. Sage voiced Black Cat in the recent Marvel Snaps video game and Lehrman has done work on shows like Bluebloods and New Amsterdam. Both CNN and the New York Times have reported that Sage and Lehrman have filed suit against Lovo in the Southern District of New York.

Both Sage and Lehrman claim in this suit that they answered ads on the website “Fiverr’’. Sage answered an ad in 2019 that asked for voice samples for “test scripts for radio ads’’. Lehrman answered an ad in 2020 that asked for voice samples ”for research purposes”. Both Sage and Lehrman took their respective jobs, with Sage being paid 400 dollars and Lehrman being paid 1200 dollars. Sage states that the ad indicated that her voice tracks would not be used for other purposes.

Sage and Lehrman later discovered that their voices were used for purposes that they had not agreed to, including narrating YouTube videos they did not create or being used for podcasts they were not involved in.

The suit alleges that Lovo had no right to use their voices in this manner. Lehrman and Sage stated that they had not agreed to have their voices used in perpetuity by Lovo. Lovo has claimed that there is no wrongdoing on their part, that they pay voice actors to ‘’clone their voices’’ and compensate them for their efforts. Entertainment union SAG-AFTRA has become involved in the suit. With Sage and Lehrman being members of the union, they would have been unable to provide work for Lovo, due to the fact Lovo does not have a contract with SAG-AFTRA.

Although Sage and Lehrman may not be household names, this is not the only example of an AI company getting into legal trouble for allegedly using someone’s voice without their permission. The Guardian reports Scarlett Johansson is suing Open AI, saying that they used her voice without her permission to be the voice of their new virtual assistant.

Erica Lindbeck, voice of Futaba Sakura in Persona 5.

It’s not just companies who have been accused of stealing voice actor’s voices through AI. Voice actor Erica Lindbeck got into an argument with a user on Twitter in 2023, after that user shared a video where AI had copied her voice without her permission. Lindbeck was supported by other voice actors like Mike Pollock, Josh Keaton and Yuri Lowenthal, and Helluva Boss creator, Vivienne Medrano, who opposed AI copying a voice actor’s voice without permission. Ultimately that user was banned from Twitter and the video was taken off YouTube, Lindbeck returned to Twitter a few months later.

Ultimately these stories show the danger of individuals and corporations using AI to copy a voice actor’s voice without their permission. You can be a famous star or a voice actor who is not as well known, you deserve to have control over how your voice. I can only speak for myself, but I would rather have animation and video games voiced by actual humans, rather than an AI pretending to be human.

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