Actors union backs Scarlett Johansson after claim of voice misuse by OpenAI (May 21)

FILE PHOTO: The 76th Cannes Film Festival - Photocall for the film "Asteroid City" in competition - Cannes, France, May 24, 2023. Cast member Scarlett Johansson poses. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

(This May 21 story has been refiled to say that SAG-AFTRA also represents motion pictures, commercials and games artists)

(Reuters) - SAG-AFTRA, an influential body representing television, radio, motion pictures, commercials and games artists, on Tuesday backed Scarlett Johansson after the American actress raised concerns over the voice feature of a new OpenAI system that she said sounded "eerily similar" to her own.

OpenAI unveiled its latest artificial intelligence model, GPT-4o, last week, featuring an audio-interacting persona named "Sky".

Johansson said on Monday that she had previously turned down a request from the company to use her voice for this system. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman clarified that the voice belonged to a different professional actress and said he was removing Sky's voice from the company's products.

"We thank Ms. Johansson for speaking out on this issue of crucial importance to all SAG-AFTRA members. We share in her concerns and fully support her right to have clarity and transparency regarding the voice used," a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson said.

SAG-AFTRA, which represents about 160,000 entertainment and media professionals globally, played a big role in securing agreements from Hollywood studios for better pay and protections against the use of AI for actors.

The dispute over the rights to actors' voices and images has become a focal point in Hollywood as studios evaluate AI's potential for creating new entertainment. The issue is particularly relevant as computer-generated images and sounds become increasingly indistinguishable from human ones.

SAG-AFTRA said it was "strongly championing federal legislation that would protect their voices and likenesses" and will continue engaging with OpenAI and other stakeholders "to enshrine transparent and resilient protections for all of us."

(Reporting by Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

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