Actors Sue AI Voice Generator for Unauthorized Use of Their Voices

The actors are seeking $5 million in damages as AI voice company Lovo allegedly used their voices without permission to generate synthetic vocals

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

May 20, 2024

3 Min Read
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A group of actors is suing Lovo, an AI voice generator over claims the company used their voices without permission.

The plaintiffs are Linnea Sage, who voices Black Cat in the Marvel Snap video game and Paul Skye Lehrman, who has starred in “Blue Bloods” and “New Amsterdam.”

Their 37-page class action lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, alleges that Lovo fraudulently used their voices to “create millions of voiceover productions without permission or proper compensation.”

Lehrman uncovered his voice was being used by the company while researching for a role. Meanwhile, Sage was paid $400 by someone called “tomlsg” to help produce test scripts for radio ads. She later discovered “tomlsg” was Lovo co-founder Tom Lee.

“[Lehrman and Sage] did not grant Lovo any right to market their voices,” according to the lawsuit. “The product that customers purchase from Lovo is stolen property. They are voices stolen by Lovo and marketed by Lovo under false pretenses: Lovo represents that it has the legal right to market these voices, but it does not.”

Founded in 2019, Lovo claims to offer “hyper-realistic” AI voices. Its text-to-speech software enables users to create voice-overs for videos using natural language. Its platform has a built-in editor, where users can create voice-overs for marketing materials or training videos along a video editing timeline.

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Lovo’s website claims to have more than 2 million users who can choose from more than 500 voices across 100 languages.

The AI company sources its voices from voice actors, compensating them for their work. The class action lawsuit brought against Lovo, however, claims the actors did not agree to even be featured on the platform, let alone receive compensation for their alleged services.

“For plaintiffs and other members of the class who have not agreed to Lovo’s terms, the continued unauthorized use of [the] plaintiffs’ voices is theft of service and misappropriation,” the lawsuit says.

The actors argued they couldn’t have worked with Lovo under SAG-AFTRA rules prohibiting them from taking on roles not covered by the union’s contract.

Since Lovo holds no such agreement with SAG-AFTRA, the company’s use of their voices could put them in involuntary breach of their union obligations and contracts, the pair contend.

The company is also accused of using Sage’s voice in one of its promotional materials shown to investors in 2020.

“Lovo has raised millions of dollars in venture capital using Sage’s voice in unauthorized and uncompensated presentations that showcase the Lovotechnology,” the lawsuit says.

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Lehrman’s voice was allegedly offered by Lovo under the name “Kyle Snow.” This allegedly false use of his voice was used by the company in its marketing material for Genny, its voice and video editing platform.

“Lovo stole Lehrman’s voice, his protected property and marketed and sold it as if it were its own,” the suit alleges. “Lehrman was never compensated for that use.”

Demanding a jury trial, the actors are seeking compensatory damages of at least $5 million and restitution of profits Lovo earned from its allegedly illicit use of their voices.

“Lovo’s conduct was knowing, characterized by malicious intent and explicitly designed to deceive the general public to reap profits unjustly at the expense of the plaintiffs,” the lawsuit reads.

“The unauthorized use of people’s likeness, including their voices, by big tech is one of the issues that was at the heart of the recent actor’s union strike,” said Steve Cohen, a partner at the law firm Pollock Cohen, which is representing Lehrman and Sage, “Lehrman and Sage are young actors who work hard to make enough to make ends meet. They are far from the celebrity world and understandably worry that Lovo’s unauthorized use of their voices might deprive them of future opportunities and income. 

“This lawsuit is the next chapter in the fight against the misappropriation of people’s talent, creative assets and hard work.”

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ChatGPT / Generative AI

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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