SAG-AFTRA Signs Agreement with Voiceover Studio on AI Voices in Video Games – News
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SAG-AFTRA Signs Agreement with Voiceover Studio on AI Voices in Video Games – News

Terms include informed consent for ‘digital voice replicas’; voice actors express concern over approval

Image via SAG-AFTRA’s Twitter account

The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) labor union announced on Tuesday that it has signed an agreement with Replica Studios — an AI voiceover studio — that sets terms for the use of artificial intelligence for voices in video games.

The agreement’s terms include informed consent for the use of AI to create digital voice replicas (recreations of the voice of a real performer, living or dead). They also include requirements for the safe storage of digital assets. The union said that the deal will enable Replica Studios “to engage SAG-AFTRA members under a fair, ethical agreement to safely create and license a digital replica of their voice. Licensed voices can be used in video game development and other interactive media projects from pre-production to final release,” but the agreement also requires that voiceover performers “have the opportunity to opt out of its continued use in new works.”

SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland stated regarding the agreement:

“Recent developments in AI technology have underscored the importance of protecting the rights of voice talent, particularly as game studios explore more efficient ways to create their games.

With this agreement, we have achieved fully informed consent and fair compensation when it comes to the use of our members’ voices and performances. We are proud to work with Replica in leading the way to make it easy for these companies to access SAG-AFTRA’s world-renowned talent in an ethical manner that ensures consent and fair compensation for their contributions. This agreement also paves the way for other companies to follow their lead.”

Meanwhile, several voice actors have expressed their concerns on the agreement and how it was reached:

Replica Studios’ AI platform launched in 2019, and it sells AI voices to video game developers from its “ethically licensed” library of voices. The company announced a new iteration of “Smart NPCs” (non-playable characters) last year, that could use OpenAI to interact with video game players in real-time.

SAG-AFTRA represents over 160,000 performers—including voice actors—and negotiates contracts with studios to guarantee consistent pay, working conditions, contributions toward health insurance and a pension, and preferential casting for union members.

Last year, SAG-AFTRA’s strike over a labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) lasted from July 14 until November 9. In December, union members voted 78 percent in favor of ratifying the contract with the AMPTP. In September, the union members had also voted 98.32% in favor of authorizing a possible separate strike against 10 video game companies.

Sources: SAG-AFTRA website, Variety (Gene Maddaus) via Slashdot

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