suedAI voiceover company stole voices of actors, New York lawsuit claims

In Tech
May 19, 2024

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 said in the proposed class-action lawsuit, opens new tab that San Francisco-based Lovo is selling AI versions of their voices without permission after tricking them into providing voice samples for the company. The actors, seeking damages of at least $5 million for the class, accused Lovo of fraud, false advertising and violating their publicity rights.

The case is the latest in a growing wave of high-stakes lawsuits in which tech companies have been accused of misusing content including books, news articles and song lyrics to power generative AI systems.

Read:Microsoft, OpenAI hit with new lawsuit by authors over AI training

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

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

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

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

Lehrman later learned that his Fiverr client was a Lovo employee, the lawsuit said.

Read: Nvidia is sued by authors over AI use of copyrighted works

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

The actors filed the lawsuit on behalf of a proposed class of people whose voices Lovo also is accused of misusing. The complaint said 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.

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