Scarlett Johansson Accuses OpenAI of Unauthorized Voice Use: A Legal Battle Over AI and Celebrity Likeness

"Avengers: Endgame" - Photocall
"Avengers: Endgame" - Photocall / Dave Benett/GettyImages

Scarlett Johansson recently came out accusing OpenAI of using her voice without her permission. The star is popular for her role as The Black Widow in several movies, and she even plays an AI virtual assistant in the 2013 movie Her, which also stars actor Joaquin Phoenix.

The Role of Consent in AI: Johansson's Battle with OpenAI

Johansson claims that Sam Altman approached her in 2023 about using her voice to help make customers more comfortable using the new technology due to her pleasant vocal characteristics, but she declined. She says he approached her again a few days before the latest ChatGPT-4o came out to see if she would reconsider, but she again declined.

Scarlett Johansson’s Accusations: A Star’s Voice Misused by AI?

However, a few days later, she was shocked to hear what sounded “eerily similar” to her voice coming from Sky, one of the AI virtual assistants. Johansson claimed that she was shocked and angered that Sam Altman would go ahead with the use of her voice against her will and that she had obtained legal counsel to address it.

The actress went on to claim that Altman went as far as taunting her, tweeting the word “her” before the release of the Sky voice, which is the name of the movie in which she played a virtual assistant.

OpenAI's Response: Denial and Removal of Sky's Voice

As a result, OpenAi removed Sky’s voice from the application but denied any wrongdoing, claiming that while the voices may be similar, the voice belongs to another professional actress who used her natural speaking process to create the virtual assistant. Still, they weren’t willing to share any names.

Though most seem to stand behind Johansson, there were a few who came to the defense of OpenAi, stating that many people have similar voices.

Legal Implications: Can You Prove Your Voice in Court?

This news brings up the questions, “What would you do if you heard your voice in OpenAI without your consent?” and “Is your voice so unique you can prove it’s yours in a court of law?” We also wonder if they will use AI technology to analyze the voice of Sky and to prove one way or another if it is the voice of Scarlett Johansson.

The Call for Better Laws: Protecting Likeness and Identity in the Digital Age

Aside from the lawsuit, Scarlett Johansson is also calling out lawmakers, stating that we need to pass better laws to ensure our likeness and identity are protected.

"In a time when we are all grappling with deepfakes and the protection of our own likeness, our own work, our own identities, I believe these are questions that deserve absolute clarity. I look forward to resolution in the form of transparency and the passage of appropriate legislation to help ensure that individual rights are protected"

Scarlett Johansson

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