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Voice Actors File Prospective Class-Action Lawsuit Against AI Company Lovo

— May 16, 2024

The two plaintiffs claim that they were tricked into providing voice samples to San Francisco-based Lovo, an artificial intelligence company that allegedly used the actors’ samples to create and sell commercial content.

Two voice actors have filed a lawsuit against Lovo, claiming that the San Francisco-based startup copied their voices for use in its artificial intelligence-driven voiceover products.

According to Reuters, the complaint was filed earlier this week on behalf of voice actors Paul Skye Lehrman and Linnea Sage. The proposed class-action lawsuit, lodged in a Manhattan federal court, alleges that Lovo deceived actors by asking them for voice samples—samples which were then purportedly used to train its AI voiceover models.

Steve Cohen, an attorney and partner with the Pollock Cohen law firm, told Reuters that his clients hope to avoid other actors having their voices, their work, and their livelihoods misused by technology companies.

“We want to make sure this doesn’t happen to other people,” Cohen told Reuters. “We don’t know—of the thousands of voices Lovo says they use—how many people know that their voices were used, and may still be used.”

The lawsuit claims that both Lehrman and Sage were solicited by Lovo for voiceover work on Fiverr. While Lehrman was offered payment by an anonymous client for his voice’s use in a “research project,” Sage was allegedly told that her voiceover would be used with “test scripts for radio ads.”

“These are test scripts for radio ads,” the Fiverr advertisement said. “They will not be disclosed externally, and will only be consumed internally, so will not require rights of any sort.”

A gavel. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user: Brian Turner. (CCA-BY-2.0).

However, Lehrman said that he later recognized his own voice being used in advertisements for Russian military equipment on YouTube—and, ironically, in a podcast episode on “the dangers of AI technologies.” Sage’s voice, meanwhile, was repurposed for Lovo’s promotional materials.

“It is my voice talking about weaponry in the Ukrainian-Russian conflict,” Lehrman told The New York Times. “I go ghost white—goosebumps on my arms. I knew I had never said those words in that order.”

Lehrman later learned that his Fiverr client was a Lovo employee.

David Case, an attorney representing Lovo, told the Times that his client trained its artificial intelligence-based voiceover products using audio samples from a English-language recordings database—but did not provide further comment when asked whether Lehrman and Sage’s voices had been used in Lovo’s AI training.

Lehrman has since said that he hopes to regain control over his own voice—and that, without taking legal action, companies like Lovo may well escape accountability.

“We hope to claw back control over our voices, over who we are, over our careers,” Lehrman told the Times. “We want to represent others this has happened to, and those that this will happen to if nothing changes.”


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