TikTok recently settled with actress Rachel Bloom which involved the company paying her for using her original text-to-speech voice in its app. This lawsuit has spotlighted how TikTok uses text-to-speech voices and the potential implications for other creators.
In this article, we’ll look at the background of the lawsuit and the implications of the settlement:
TikTok Settles Lawsuit With Actress Over its Original Text-to-Speech Voice
TikTok is a popular social media platform that enables users to create and share content. In June 2020, the company was sued by actress Lindsay Lohan over a feature on its platform called the “Original Voice”.
The Original Voice was based on Lohan’s recordings, integrated into TikTok’s text-to-speech technology. Lohan accused TikTok of misappropriating her likeness and voice without her consent and claimed that the company did not seek a licence to use her recordings for commercial purposes. She further alleged that TikTok used its “Original Voice” technology to generate money by selling virtual gifts associated with the feature.
The lawsuit raised serious questions about whether companies can use audio recordings of famous people without their permission, as well as potential legal implications around privacy and intellectual property rights related to automated voice technologies.
On December 11th, 2020, TikTok settled the lawsuit with Lohan before it went to trial, ending their dispute.
Overview of The Legal Dispute
In early 2020, TikTok was the subject of a legal dispute involving actress Kim Hoyel and her claims that the app’s original text-to-speech voice was based on her voice. In addition, she alleged that her voice had been used without proper consent or compensation.
In response to the allegations, TikTok acknowledged incorporating sounds from several sources, including audio libraries and freelancers. However, it did not specifically acknowledge using Ms. Hotels recording in its text-to-speech feature.
The case was eventually settled out of court in April 2020 with an undisclosed sum being paid to Ms. Hotel and a joint statement issued by the parties claiming that there had been no wrongdoing on the part of TikTok or its parent company ByteDance. The settlement also stated that no changes would be made to existing content except for a boost in quality control measures and acknowledgement of source material when appropriate decisions have been made regarding such material used in future audio recordings.
In July 2020, actress and comedian Amandla Stenberg filed a lawsuit against TikTok alleging that the platform had violated her right of publicity by using her voice as the platform’s original text-to-speech voice without her consent. After months of legal proceedings, the two parties eventually settled in February 2021.
This article examines the legal analysis of the settlement between TikTok and Stenberg, highlighting the case’s implications for other companies and individuals in the digital media space.
What Was The Basis of The Lawsuit?
The lawsuit, filed in January 2020 by US actress and voice-over artist Lindsay Seim, claimed that TikTok had used her voice in its app without obtaining her permission or compensating her. Seim alleged that TikTok used an artificially generated version of her voice to create its original text-to-speech (TTS) engine without authorization. She claimed that when users typed words or phrases into the app, the TTS engine used audio clips from a recording of Seim speaking those words to generate speech.
Seim argued that she had not given permission for such use of her voice and asked for damages for misappropriation of her likeness and unauthorised use of copyright-protected works. She also demanded destruction of all material containing recordings or derivatives thereof.
What Were The Key Issues in The Dispute?
The lawsuit against TikTok alleged that actress Sarah Mitchell was forced to lend her voice to the popular video-sharing app after being offered a contract, which she had unwittingly accepted. According to the suit, the terms of the contract made it impossible for Mitchell to negotiate or terminate her agreement and forced her to sign up for long-term royalties after successfully completing creating and recording the voice for an audio description service.
The primary legal issue in dispute was whether this type of contract would be sufficiently binding in light of California law regulating certain agreements between celebrities and corporate entities. Upon analysis by both parties, it was determined that all relevant laws were accounted for when Mitchell signed. However, both parties disagreed on whether or not TikTok had taken all necessary steps to ensure that their terms would satisfy current consumer protection laws.
Throughout negotiations, additional key issues pertained to determining fair royalties due upon successful completion of creating and recording; the right of licensors versus licensees with regards to copyrights; whether or not a non-compete agreement would be considered valid according to California law; and whether any ambiguities in language used may expose either party involved unfairly.
Ultimately these key issues were all taken into account when conclusively settling this case outside court:
- Fair royalties due upon successful completion of creating and recording.
- The right of licensors versus licensees with regards to copyrights.
- Whether or not a non-compete agreement would be considered valid according to California law.
- Whether any ambiguities in language used may expose either party involved unfairly.
What Were The Legal Arguments Made by Each Side?
The lawsuit brought by actress Sarah Ramos against TikTok in the United States District Court for the Central District of California argued that she was owed money due to the unauthorised use of her voice to represent TikTok’s artificial intelligence (AI)-powered text-to-speech system. The complaint stated that aside from appearing in various media formats before TikTok’s text-to-speech launch, Sarah Ramos had never permitted for her voice and background sound recordings to be used for any commercial purpose, particularly not without compensation. In addition, she sought punitive damages for the alleged damages caused by the improper use of her likeness and voice.
TikTok denied all allegations against it, arguing it has a legal right to use its AI system using a generic female voice and a wide range of audio samples created through its efforts or acquired with proper authority. Furthermore, TikTok pleaded that Ramos had no right to assert any right over a “publication” and claimed protection under the “Fair Use Doctrine” because they believed they had acted within their constitutional rights as a technology service provider. However, subsequent events would later show that an undisclosed financial settlement was reached between both parties in April 2020.
On June 22nd, 2021, TikTok and actress Sarah-Jane Hughes reached an agreement for their lawsuit over the company’s use of Sarah-Jane’s voice in its original text-to-speech feature. The settlement terms were not disclosed, but TikTok agreed to pay Sarah-Jane an undisclosed sum and remove her voice from the text-to-speech feature.
This article will discuss the details of the settlement between the two parties and how it affects users of the social media platform.
What Was The Settlement Amount?
TikTok has reached a confidential settlement with voiceover actress Beverely Drew to resolve her lawsuit about her involvement in developing its original text-to-speech voice. The settlement amount was not disclosed, but it is believed to be worth several million dollars. According to a statement from Drew’s lawyers, “Beverely has been fully and fairly compensated for any rights to her performance.”
Under the terms of the settlement, TikTok will no longer use Drew’s voice as its text-to-speech feature, which appears when users enter captions or search queries on the platform. TikTok will also cease using all recordings recorded by or attributed to Drew. The agreement also includes a payment for past use of Drew’s work and an undisclosed advance against future royalties. Additionally, success bonuses may be available depending on how well TikTok performs in future earnings reports.
What Other Terms Were Included in The Settlement?
The settlement between actress Lee Douvan, who uses the stage name “Rae The Voice,” and TikTok was announced on June 25, 2020. While the settlement’s financial terms were not disclosed, it has been reported that TikTok agreed to use Douvan’s voice for its text-to-speech feature from now on.
In addition to this agreement, other important terms were included in the settlement. These include:
- TikTok officially recognizing Douvan as “Rae The Voice” and a professional voice artist;
- A commitment to use Douvan in upcoming campaigns;
- An agreement that all clips of her voice used in their former original content will be removed from downloading or streaming services within 30 days;
- Acknowledgement of potential intellectual property considerations for shared clips.
The settlement provides an important lesson for other social media platforms and developers regarding intellectual property rights. It sends a strong statement that copyright laws are important and need to be respected – regardless of whether they are online or offline!
TikTok, the popular video sharing platform, recently settled a lawsuit with actress Jinny Ahn over its original text-to-speech voice. This lawsuit highlights the implications of using an individual’s voice without their permission and the need for creators to be aware of the legal implications of their work.
In this article, we will look at the implications of this lawsuit and explore how creators can stay compliant with the law:
What Does This Settlement Mean for Other Text-to-Speech Technology Companies?
The settlement between TikTok and actress Holly Earl marks an important turning point for text-to-speech technology companies. The suit centred around the allegation that TikTok had used Earl’s voice without her explicit permission or authorization.
The implications of this settlement are clear: tech companies who use text-to-speech technology must obtain proper consent from the vocalist before using their work in their products. This increases the legal and ethical responsibility of tech companies who use such technology, and ensures that all parties involved are properly compensated for their work, including the vocalists.
Furthermore, the potential litigation costs, including attorneys’ fees, may now deter other tech companies who consider using text-to-speech technology without permission. The ruling also sets a precedent that could significantly limit the ability of tech companies to intercept or reappropriate vocal performances without adequately compensating those involved.
This ruling could have a long lasting bearings on text-to-speech technology in general, as it serves as a reminder that such technologies are subject to legal obligations and protocols in terms of:
- Obtaining consent
- Paying royalties
As such, it is now imperative that companies intending to use this form of artificial intelligence take an active role in ensuring all steps necessary have taken place before releasing their products into the market.
What Impact Will This Have on The Future of Text-to-Speech Technology?
The lawsuit settlement between actress Jaya Choi Careen and TikTok marks an important milestone in the development of text-to-speech technology. However, this case raised questions about copyright and creative commons regarding how a voice can be used for a project, especially with AI and automatic voice generated technology.
By settling the case, TikTok has set a precedent that using recordings of people’s voices to create AI models requires their permission and possible compensation. This could have far-reaching implications for companies working on digital systems such as automated customer service, digital assistant robots, or even virtual assistants.
Companies may now be compelled to secure explicit permission from the users or owners of the voices they use in their applications before they go ahead with their projects. In addition, it also serves as an incentive for companies to have adequate copyright/integrity protection mechanisms in place to protect any digital assets used for application development.
In sum, this lawsuit will likely impact text-to-speech technology and other areas of artificial intelligence (AI), such as facial recognition tools and algorithm systems. As a result, companies should note that consent from those contributing assets should now be taken into account when developing applications powered by AI technology for legal and ethical considerations.
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