Voiceover Artists Sue AI Company for Voice Cloning Without Consent

Two voiceover professionals from the U.S. have initiated a legal battle against Lovo, an AI firm based in San Francisco. They allege that their vocal prints have been digitally cloned and utilized within Lovo’s ‘voice off’ technology sans permission. The AI technology in question operates without pairing the audio with an image of the speaker.

Paul Skye Lehrman and Linnea Sage both stepped forward, part of a wider affiliation of actors demanding restitution in excess of five million dollars due to unauthorized use of their voices. The collective civil action claims Lovo engaged in deceptive practices, violated their right to publicity, and falsely advertised its services.

This lawsuit adds to the growing trend of high-stake legal disputes involving tech enterprises accused of improper content usage, ranging from books and news articles to song lyrics in AI generative systems. Their lawyer from Pollock Cohen expressed a determination in a conversation with Reuters to prevent similar misuse affecting others.

Both actors were reportedly approached on the freelancer’s marketplace Fiverr to record voiceovers for what they believed were limited and innocuous projects. Lehrman was informed his voice would feature in research projects, while Sage was told her recordings were for radio ad test scenarios. However, Lehrman later heard AI versions of his voice in online videos, and Sage’s voice was detected in Lovo’s promotional content.

Unbeknownst to them, their ‘clients’ on Fiverr were linked to Lovo, which was marketing their voices under aliases to subscribers. In response to a cease-and-desist letter from the actors, Lovo dismissed the popularity and sales of the voices in question as insubstantial.

Those representing the aggrieved parties argue that countless individuals may be unaware that their voices are being commercially exploited. As Lovo faces this lawsuit, it has also come to light that the company offers voices bearing resemblance to celebrities, seemingly as part of its wider voice cloning business practices.

Key Questions and Answers:

What is voice cloning technology?
Voice cloning technology refers to artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms capable of replicating a person’s voice with high accuracy. By analyzing samples of actual speech, the software can generate new content that sounds like the original voice.

Why is voice cloning controversial?
Voice cloning raises ethical and legal concerns regarding consent, intellectual property, the potential for misuse in creating deepfakes or impostor content, and the effects on professional voiceover artists’ livelihoods.

What might the voiceover artists argue in their case against Lovo?
The voiceover artists likely argue that their unique vocal properties are their intellectual property and using their voices without consent infringes upon their rights. They may also claim financial damages if the unauthorized use affects their own marketability and job opportunities.

Key Challenges or Controversies:
Consent: One of the central issues is whether Lovo obtained proper consent to use the voiceover artists’ recordings for creating and selling artificial voices.
Intellectual Property: There’s a legal gray area in determining the ownership of a person’s voice and likeness and whether this can be protected and treated as intellectual property.
Ethics and Misrepresentation: There is a moral aspect regarding the ethical use of someone’s likeness or voice and the misrepresentation of AI-generated voices as real human voices.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Voice Cloning:
Advantages: Voice cloning can be incredibly useful for legitimate purposes such as restoring the voices of people who lost theirs to illness, creating realistic voiceovers without constant studio sessions, and multilingual translations with a consistent voice.
Disadvantages: The technology can be misused for creating deepfakes, leading to scams or defamation. Professional voice artists also risk economic harm if AI clones replace them or use their voices without fair compensation.

Suggested Related Links:
Reuters: For the latest updates on legal disputes involving tech companies and AI-generated content implications.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): For information on the right to publicity and intellectual property rights issues in the United States.
SAG-AFTRA: The labor union representing voiceover artists may have a stance or resources regarding the use of AI in the industry.

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