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Voice Actors Sue AI Startup Lovo for Illegally Copying Voices

Two voice actors sued artificial intelligence startup Lovo in Manhattan federal court on Thursday, accusing the company of illegally copying their voices and using them without permission in its AI voiceover technology.

Paul Skye Lehrman and Linnea Sage, in a proposed class-action lawsuit, allege that San Francisco-based Lovo is selling AI versions of their voices without authorization after deceiving them into providing voice samples. The actors are seeking at least $5 million in damages for the class, accusing Lovo of fraud, false advertising, and violating their publicity rights.

The case is part of a growing trend of high-stakes lawsuits against tech companies accused of misusing content, including books, news articles, and song lyrics, to power generative AI systems.

“We want to make sure this doesn’t happen to other people,” said Steve Cohen of Pollock Cohen, the plaintiffs’ lawyer. “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.”

Lovo representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the lawsuit, Lehrman and Sage were approached on the freelancer marketplace Fiverr to provide voiceover work for anonymous clients. Lehrman was told his voice would be used only for a “research project,” while Sage was informed her voice would be used only with “test scripts for radio ads.”

Instead, Lehrman later discovered AI versions of his voice in YouTube videos about Russian military equipment and in a podcast episode about “the dangers of AI technologies.” Sage’s voice was used for Lovo promotional materials, the lawsuit claims.

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

The actors said they later found out that Lovo was selling Lehrman’s voice to subscribers as “Kyle Snow” and Sage’s as “Sally Coleman.” According to the complaint, Lovo responded to a cease-and-desist letter by saying the actors’ voices were “not popular” and their sales were “negligible.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a proposed class of people whose voices Lovo is also accused of misusing. The complaint states that Lovo’s website also offers celebrity soundalike voices under names like “Barack Yo Mama,” “Mark Zuckerpunch,” and “Cocoon O’Brien.”

The case is Lehrman v. Lovo Inc., U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:24-cv-03770.

Source: Reuters

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