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

Voice actors sue AI startup
Voice actors sue AI startup, claiming they clone their voices 05:34

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 Skye 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.

But two years later, Lehrman said he was shocked when he heard his voice on a YouTube video and later a podcast that he never recorded.

"My voice is out there saying things that I've never said in places that I haven't agreed to be a part of," he said. "We are now in a science fiction come true."

Shock turned to outrage when the actors dug deeper. They said the startup cloned both Lehrman and Sage's voices, breaching their respective contracts.

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.

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