Scarlett Johansson, Open AI Voice: Threat of Lawsuit for Actors

The artists were the first to file a lawsuit. Then the authors hit creative artificial intelligence companies with lawsuits, followed by publications. As battle lines are drawn over the use of AI tools in Hollywood, actors could be the next group of creators to open another front pitting the industry against AI firms over copyrighted works and use of personal data. There could be a legal battle defining Power their human-imitating chatbots.

On Monday, Scarlett Johansson threatened legal action against OpenAI for allegedly transcribing and simulating her voice after it refused to license the company. According to the actress, OpenAI asked her to be one of the voices for its latest AI system called “Sky”. He declined, though he said he didn't stop Chief Executive Sam Altman.

In a statement, she wrote, “When I heard the demo that was released, I was shocked, outraged, and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice so similar to mine that my close friends and News outlets can't tell the difference.” .

Johansson said the similarity was intentional, with Altman tweeting “Her” — a reference to her role as an AI assistant who forms a close bond with a human. his. He hired legal counsel, who wrote two letters to OpenAI, instructing them to detail the process by which they created the “Sky” sound. The two letters cited in Johansson's statement (which she wrote herself) were sent after the Altman-led firm advanced its demo and several potential legal claims, according to a person familiar with the situation. The Hollywood Reporter.

“They wouldn't have done it if it weren't for the letters,” says the source. “It wasn't just a 'what's going on there'? [letter]. It was very aggressive and overwhelming.”

OpenAI brought down “Sky,” but the company was hit with lawsuits after running into legal problems based on its technology.

The legal threat follows a proposed class action filed in New York federal court against Berkeley-based AI startup LOVO, accusing the company of stealing and profiting from the voices of actors as well as A-list talent such as Johansson. Accused of lifting. Ariana Grande and Conan O'Brien. It is believed to be the first lawsuit against an AI firm over the use of analogies to train AI systems and marks a growing rift between creators and companies over which to promote their technology. Alleged indiscriminate transfer of copyrighted works and data.

For SAG-AFTRA, OpenAI's mistake couldn't have come at a better time. AI services have grown that allow users to copy members' likenesses without consent or compensation. The union has pushed lawmakers to advocate for a federal right of publicity law in the absence of federal laws covering the use of AI to impersonate actors. A patchwork of state right-of-publicity laws has filled this void, but OpenAI's alleged theft of Johansson's voice illustrates the limitations of the current legal landscape.

“This event highlights the importance of protecting your voice in the age of AI. The ease of voice cloning is no longer science fiction, it's science fact,” says a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson. “Whether you are a professional actor who wants to protect your career or an individual who wants to protect the words attributed to you, federal protection is needed now.”

SAG-AFTRA has played a role in the introduction of three bills in Congress, including two that would create federal voice and likeness rights and another that would criminalize non-consensual deep-fake sexual portrayals. That's not all union efforts to discourage the use of AI in the production pipeline. New York is considering legislation that would ban tax credits when AI is used to displace workers. In March, Tennessee signed into law first-of-its-kind legislation banning the use of AI to imitate a person's voice, making violations a criminal offense. .

The union maintains that training AI systems on members' likenesses without their consent is a violation of their rights. The court will probably decide the matter.

With an A-list celebrity publicly clashing with OpenAI, the incident shows a growing rift between tech firms encroaching on Hollywood and creators who fear being displaced by the tools. which they have unwittingly helped to create. Distrust of AI companies is growing, with many believing that Altman-led firms are not acting in good faith.

OpenAICTO Meera Murthy said in a March livestream that the voice assistant was not meant to sound like an actress. And before Johansson published its version of events, the company said in a blog post that it “believes that AI voices should not intentionally imitate a celebrity's distinct voice” while omitting that information. The actress refused to license her voice.

OpenAI executives have repeatedly declined to answer questions about whether its text-to-video tool Sora was trained on YouTube videos, with Marathi saying the company used “publicly available data and licensed data.” used It also no longer discloses the materials used to train its AI systems, attributing the decision to maintaining a competitive edge over other companies. The firm has been sued by a number of authors and accused of using their copyrighted books, many of which were downloaded from shadow library sites.

OpenAI's actions have a distinctly Silicon Valley ethos: ask for forgiveness, not permission.

“If they can do that to Ms. Johansen, imagine what they'll do to a 23-year-old screenwriter who's just starting out,” says Justin Nelson, a lawyer for authors suing OpenAI and Microsoft. ” or some actor who just moved to Hollywood and has nowhere near a resume as an actress.

While Johansson is unlikely to be sued after OpenAI took down “Sky,” essentially giving it an injunction without filing a lawsuit, legal experts say OpenAI could face a lawsuit if it does. AI faced an uphill battle in court. THR.

Bette Midler's lawsuit against Ford over a series of ads called “The UP Campaign” in which the company used her impersonator to imitate the singer's voice may be instructive. Like Johansson, Midler was asked to sing for commercials but declined. Ford then hired a voiceover to sing one of his songs in a commercial. After it aired, he was told by “multiple people” that it sounded “exactly like him,” according to court filings.

After the federal judge overseeing the case granted Ford summary judgment, finding she had no right to block the use of her voice, Midler appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This court ultimately found that the singer's voice was distinctive for her identity, which Ford took advantage of. This provision establishes rights to uncopyrightable identifiers, such as sound, when an individual known for that characteristic is included.

The court order required Ford's motives for using Midler's impersonation. Questions asked by the judges included why the company asked Midler to sing if her voice was not up to par and why the impersonator was instructed to imitate the singer.

Intellectual property lawyer Porvi Albers says OpenAI's request for Johansson's services is essential to whether the company infringed on her publicity rights. “It's clear that was the sound they were going for,” she adds. “They wanted to piggyback off his husky voice.”

Conclusion: It doesn't matter that Johansson's voice wasn't used to train “Sky” as long as it was meant to capture her performance in the Spike Jonze movie.

A lawsuit could assert a right of publicity, a right to privacy, and possibly a federal trademark that users believe is associated with OpenAI. A person familiar with the situation said the letter contained claims “definitely references beyond a simple right of publicity.”

“Sky” may also have added the rights to Annapurna, which created hisif Altman wanted to replicate Johansson's performance in the film.

In the entertainment industry, the specter of AI casts an ominous shadow. A January study surveying 300 Hollywood leaders reported that three-quarters of respondents indicated that AI tools supported the elimination, reduction or stabilization of jobs at their companies. Over the next three years, it is estimated that approximately 204,000 positions will be adversely affected.

Paul Skye Lehrman, who has more than a decade of experience as a voice-over artist and is suing an AI startup, said he has made about 50 percent less work than last year. He asserted that the problem was not only that he was getting fewer job opportunities, but “the deterioration of my reputation”.

“My voice is literally saying things I wouldn't say with brands I wouldn't work with in places I don't want to be,” he added.

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