Class action filed over AI-generated voice cloning

On Behalf of | May 23, 2024 | Firm News |

On May 16, two voice actors filed a class action lawsuit against Berkeley-based LOVO, alleging that the company used AI voiceover technology to copy the actors’ voices without permission. They claim it also violates their right to publicity, and the deception amounts to false advertising.

The plaintiffs claimed that LOVO, that acted anonymously through a freelance marketplace, Fiverr, tricked them into providing voice samples to the company as part of a research project or for test scripts for radio ads. Lovo allegedly sampled thousands of voices to create cloned versions of voices and then sold AI voiceover subscription services to customers. LOVO also allegedly misappropriated voices, including those of A-list talent like Scarlett Johansson and Ariana Grande, to train their AI system.

The lawsuit seeks to represent other voiceover artists who believe their voices were also misappropriated. The actors seek at least $5 million in damages, claiming that LOVO sold their voices under pseudonyms. When the actors sent a cease-and-desist order, LOVO claimed the actors’ voices were “not popular” and their sales were negligible.

The legal landscape

The LOVO case is pretty typical of AI content generation cases, presenting three legal issues:

  1. Right of publicity

Like other artists, voice actors have a right to control the commercial use of their likeness and voice. This right is known as the “right of publicity.” When AI companies clone voices without consent, they potentially violate this right.

  1. Consent and compensation

AI-generated voice cloning often occurs without actors’ knowledge or permission. Plaintiff Paul Skye Lehrman discovered that his cloned voice appeared in YouTube videos and podcasts. Actors argue that their voices are valuable assets. LOVO should seek their consent before using their voice to train AI systems. Compensation for this use is also a contentious issue.

  1. False representation and stolen property

If companies like LOVO falsely represent that they have the legal right to market these voices when they don’t, such misrepresentation may constitute false advertising under federal and state laws. Use of actors’ voices without proper authorization may be likened to using stolen property. The lawsuit against LOVO aims to halt this practice and protect voice actors’ livelihoods.

There are many issues to resolve

This firm is not involved in the LOVO case. Still, while innovations in AI-generated voice technology should be permitted to evolve and deliver new solutions, legal frameworks must adapt to safeguard artists’ intellectual property rights.