Professional voice actors are now starting to be impacted by AI’s incursion, so it’s not just visual artists who are feeling the heat.
Last week, Vice reported on a concerning trend that is growing in the voice acting industry: actors are being “asked” to sign contracts that would allow their clients to artificially synthesize their voices, allowing them to use an actor’s voice for as long as they want, to say what they want, and frequently without any additional compensation.
What’s another upsetting feature of these contracts? They frequently have deceptively embedded AI clauses.
Tim Friedlander, president of the National Association of Voice Actors, told Vice that the technique is “extremely popular” and that “the wording can be confusing and imprecise.”
“Many voice actors might have agreed to a contract without being aware that such language had been incorporated. Some actors are informed that they cannot be employed unless they accept these terms, “he observed
Following the discovery, a lot of well-known voice actors started to weigh in on the usage of AI to mimic their sounds, as Gizmodo noticed. Some individuals had just learned that websites and AI apps were using their voices without their consent (though they have not disclosed which specific platforms).
“Hey friends, I know AI technology is exciting, but if you see my voice or any of the characters that I voice offered on any of those sites, please know that I have not given my permission, and never will,” wrote Steve Blum, the iconic gravelly voice behind Spike Spiegel from the hit anime series “Cowboy Bebop,” in a tweet on Friday.
He continued, “This is extremely unethical.”
Many other eminent voice performers agreed with Blum’s stance, including Cristina Vee, Stephanie Sheh, and Matthew Mercer.
According to Vee’s tweet, “I know people have been using AI of my voice to have fun, make my characters swear, or do other out-of-the-blue things, etc.” “All of this was done without my permission, and it does seem quite strange. Please be aware that any clips you see online were not done with my consent.”
The pressure to sign these contracts will undoubtedly increase if it comes down to choosing between obtaining paid labor or doing nothing at all if this practice spreads widely.
Even while the financial ramifications of that for voice performers are already concerning, the possibility that their voices could be used in content that they initially refused to participate in is unsettling.
What occurs if we enthusiastically accept a job but, once in the booth, find a line in the script that doesn’t feel right and display blatant discomfort? asked Sarah Elmaleh, a voice actress, in her comments to Vice. What would happen if the producer didn’t understand or acknowledge the gravity of the objection?
Elmaleh continued, “Normally we are able to refuse to read the line, to stop it from being used. Clearly, this technology completely avoids that.