Voice Actors Suing Lovo AI Over Breach of Contract, Say Their Voices Were Cloned Without Permission

two voice actors sue lovo ai
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two voice actors sue lovo ai
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Photo Credit: Lovo

AI voice startup Lovo is being sued by two voice actors who say the company hired them to create voice clips, which they used to train their AI.

Paul Skye Lehrman and Linnea Sage say they were hired by Lovo in 2019 and 2020 to provide several voice clips for what was described as “internal research.” Lehrman told CBS News that on three different occasions the company assured him that the voice clips provided would be used for “internal purposes only and never forward facing.”

Lehrman describes browsing YouTube in 2022, only to hear himself talking in the video. He also describes hearing himself speaking a podcast that he never recorded with his voice. “My voice is out there saying things that I’ve never said in places that I haven’t agreed to be a part of,” Lehrman says. “We are now in a science fiction come true.”

Both Lehrman and Sage say that Lovo used their voice clips to train their AI—essentially cloning their voices. They allege this is a breach of the respective contracts they signed and have a proposed a federal class action lawsuit for violating trademark laws.

Lovo advertises its services as an AI voice cloning tool that allows users to upload minutes of audio sample to generate a custom voice clone. The service is intended to offer podcasters the ability to model their voice and create new videos just by typing text, modifying the AI voice model as needed.

There are no federal laws that cover the use of AI to mimic someone’s voice—which has become a hot button issue in recent AI discourse. Tennessee’s recently passed ELVIS Act covers this issue, but it only applies to that state for now. If federal legislation were to be adopted, the ELVIS Act could serve as a template for what AI voice protection would look like at the federal level.

OpenAI was recently accused of hiring a sound-a-like to mimic Scarlett Johansson’s voice—after contacting the actress to gauge her interest. The move has drawn comparisons to the Midler v. Ford case, in which Ford hired a sound-a-like singer to mimic Bette Midler’s sound for one of their commercials.

“I have such an incredibly pessimistic view of the future of voiceover,” Sage told CBS News. “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 adds. “And unfortunately that’s everyone and anyone.”