Photo was created by Webthat using MidJourney
Voice Actors Alarmed as AI Cloning Disrupts the Industry
Greg Marston, a seasoned British voice actor, discovered that his voice had been cloned using AI technology without his knowledge or consent. Companies like Revoicer are leveraging artificial intelligence to convert text into speech, offering various intonations and styles in multiple languages.
Marston’s voice, acquired by Revoicer from IBM through a contract he signed in 2005, has now become a commercial asset sold to third parties for various purposes.
The Growing Predicament Facing Voiceover Artists
The rapid commercialization of generative AI, which can produce human-like content, is posing a significant challenge for voiceover artists and performers. Exploitative contracts, data scraping methods, and alleged scams are threatening their livelihoods and eroding their rights.
This dire situation has led to numerous cases of actors encountering their voices in AI-generated ads or falling victim to phone scams. The performing arts trade union, Equity, has received multiple complaints about AI-related scams and exploitation.
Exploitative Practices in the AI Cloning Industry
Voice actors like Laurence Bouvard have encountered exploitative behavior, including fake castings and contracts with clauses allowing AI synthesis of their voices without adequate compensation. Some AI companies even scrape voice data under the guise of regular voice jobs.
The lack of protection and consent mechanisms for performers in massive data sets utilized by AI developers is a pressing concern. The financial transfer from the creative sector to the tech sector has become increasingly evident.
Urgent Calls for Updated Copyright Law and Artist Protection
Lawyer Mathilde Pavis and Equity are advocating for new rights to be enshrined in the law, specifically time-limited contracts instead of perpetual rights agreements.
They argue for the inclusion of explicit consent requirements when artists’ voices or likenesses are cloned by AI. The current legislation, which lacks substantial updates and is ill-suited to the digital era, leaves performers in an imbalanced bargaining position. Data privacy laws offer limited protection but fall short in addressing AI-related issues.
The Need for Legislative Action in the Face of AI Advancements
The introduction of AI technology has further weakened artists’ position in an industry already plagued by unscrupulous contracts. The outdated copyright act and the absence of comprehensive IP regulations for AI raise concerns.
With a focus on fostering AI innovation, the UK government has shown a preference for light-touch IP regulation. However, artists are left vulnerable without adequate legal safeguards to protect their work and interests.
A Battle for the Future of Performers and Artists
Equity’s recent release of a toolkit providing model clauses and contracts for AI usage reflects the union’s commitment to advocating for artists. Calls for reform and the need for explicit consent in AI cloning processes aim to safeguard performers’ rights.
However, with the current landscape and unsustainable practices, actors like Marcus Hutton fear for the future of their profession and its viability in the long run.