Two voice actors sue AI company over claims it breached contracts, cloned their voices

Two voice actors sue AI company over claims it breached contracts, cloned their voices

Two voice actors are suing an artificial intelligence startup in a proposed federal class action lawsuit for violating trademark laws, to train their AI.

Paul Skey Lehrman and Linnea Sage were hired by Lovo, an AI company, back in 2019 and 2020 to provide voice clips for what they were told would be internal research.

“On three occasions in writing they had given me assurances of how and where it would be used for internal purposes only and never forward facing,” Lehrman said.

Lovo advertises an “AI voice cloning tool” where users can upload or record an audio sample that gets turned into a custom voice clone. Experts say there are no federal laws covering the use of AI to mimic someone’s voice.

“We need federal AI likeness protection, and we needed it yesterday,” said Ryan Schmidt of Bowen Law Group. “We need a uniform statutory scheme that’s gonna protect not only public figures and celebrities, but just about every person and citizen of America, because AI can clone and replicate anybody.”

Lehrman and Sage said their voices are their livelihoods, now being stolen by AI.

“I have such an incredibly pessimistic view of the future of voiceover,” Sage said. “So far this year to date I’ve lost 75% of the work that I would’ve normally done up until now. And I am expecting that to get worse.”

“This is about protecting individuals who have a voice that can be exploited,” Lehrman added. “And unfortunately that’s everyone and anyone.”

Lovo did not reply to CBS News’ multiple requests for comment.

Lehrman and Sage’s fight is the latest concerning AI. In May, actress¬†Scarlett Johansson was “shocked, angered and in disbelief” after OpenAI’s ChatGPT sounded like her. Johansson had declined OpenAI founder Sam Altman’s offer to voice ChatGPT’s text-to-speech product. Altman said the voice is not Johansson’s.

AI was a key issue in the¬†SAG-AFTRA strike last year. A new actor contract includes limits on artificial intelligence. Producers for TV and film must get consent from actors to use a digital replica. They’re also entitled to compensation for this use.

Jo Ling Kent