BLACK WIDOW Star Scarlett Johansson Threatens OpenAI With Lawsuit After Launch Of ChatGPT's Sky Soundalike

BLACK WIDOW Star Scarlett Johansson Threatens OpenAI With Lawsuit After Launch Of ChatGPT's Sky Soundalike BLACK WIDOW Star Scarlett Johansson Threatens OpenAI With Lawsuit After Launch Of ChatGPT's Sky Soundalike

Black Widow and Avengers: Endgame star Scarlett Johansson has taken aim at OpenAI after it launched a new ChatGPT voice, Sky, which appears to be mimicking the actress. Read on for further details...

By JoshWilding - May 21, 2024 06:05 AM EST
Filed Under: Other

OpenAI has been forced to suspend its new ChatGPT voice, Sky, following claims it was mimicking Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson in 2013's Her (when this sort of thing was science fiction rather than science fact). 

Johansson serving as inspiration for the system was obvious after OpenAI CEO Sam Altman simply posted "her" on X when Sky launched. He's also shared his love of Her in previous interviews, but a scathing statement from the actress herself has left the company likely fearing a lawsuit. 

She's confirmed that OpenAi first approached her last September about officially becoming the voice for ChatGPT 4.0. Ultimately, Johansson declined the offer, only to once again hear from the company two days before Sky went live. 

As the actress explains, she and Altman didn't get a chance to discuss the matter, forcing The Avengers star to get lawyers involved (which pushed OpenAI to "reluctantly" remove the apparent soundalike) when she was made aware of the similarities. 

Here is Johansson's statement in full:

Last September, I received an offer from Sam Altman, who wanted to hire me to voice the current ChatGPT 4.0 system. He told me that he felt that by my voicing the system, I could bridge the gap between tech companies and creatives and help consumers to feel comfortable with the seismic shift concerning humans and AI. He said he felt that my voice would be comforting to people.

After much consideration and for personal reasons, I declined the offer. Nine months later, my friends, family and the general public all noted how much the newest system named ‘Sky’ sounded like me.

When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine that my closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference. Mr. Altman even insinuated that the similarity was intentional, tweeting a single word ‘her’ – a reference to the film in which I voiced a chat system, Samantha, who forms an intimate relationship with a human.

Two days before the ChatGPT 4.0 demo was released, Mr. Altman contacted my agent, asking me to reconsider. Before we could connect, the system was out there.

As a result of their actions, I was forced to hire legal counsel, who wrote two letters to Mr. Altman and OpenAI, setting out what they had done and asking them to detail the exact process by which they created the ‘Sky’ voice. Consequently, OpenAI reluctantly agreed to take down the “Sky” voice.

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.

For what it's worth, OpenAI has said, "We support the creative community and worked closely with the voice acting industry to ensure we took the right steps to cast ChatGPT’s voices. Each actor receives compensation above top-of-market rates, and this will continue for as long as their voices are used in our products."

"We believe that AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity's distinctive voice - Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice," the statement continues. "To protect their privacy, we cannot share the names of our voice talents."

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Malatrova15 - 5/21/2024, 6:26 AM
This woman ...wherever bring Hunter into the MCU now
Doomsday8888 - 5/21/2024, 6:27 AM
I guess she's in the lawsuit business these days, first against Disney and now...
TK420 - 5/21/2024, 6:42 AM
@Doomsday8888 - Fighting the good fight, though.
IAmAHoot - 5/21/2024, 6:44 AM
Couldn't help but smile that I started reading her quote in her voice, but how I hear her voice in my head is basically like AI. That's a pickle I didn't need to ponder this morning.

The voice doesn't sound the most like her, but at times it does and especially because it hits certain speaking inflections she has. Especially given the history of them trying to use her for the voice, the similarity can be noticed. And especially with her concerns about deepfakes and AI and the like, she is apt to hold a claim against them here.
Apophis71 - 5/21/2024, 7:56 AM
@IAmAHoot - Certainly at mimimum entitled to get disclosure as to how they created the AI voice considering they approached her fist and she turned them down. If they went and found another voice actor who sounds similar enough to build the voice and adequatly paid her for it then that could be fair enough although could get murky if they then intentionaly used any audio of Scarlett to layer onto that actors recordings to make it sound MORE like Johansson.

I know some get bent out of shape folk getting litigious if they are percieved to be wealthy enough to not 'need' to do so but I tend to think more that only those with a lot of resources CAN take on companies. I don't care that much if at all if an A lister wins a case like this in regards to that actor winning damages and more think on it that in doing so they draw legal lines in the sand such that those who aren't big money actors don't get exploited as readily. It would thus be nice if cases like this did result in a payout to a big star then that money goes towards a charitable fund to support cases for actors just starting out that are exploited in cases like BIG companies making BIG money with no residuals from minimal pay image capture/voice recording work.
IAmAHoot - 5/21/2024, 8:10 AM
@Apophis71 - Yeah, and just the idea, from her perspective, of having her voice readily available to record whatever someone wants without her permission, it's very scary. Definitely a safety concern given what can be done with so little.
Apophis71 - 5/21/2024, 8:21 AM
@IAmAHoot - Yup, I mean this one is the safer end of the scale things but then you already have cases with scams using the images of famous people on social media to rob folk of cash, you can have your voice used to support a political figures in robocalls you have vastly opposing policy views to and ofcourse, there is porn (which could end their entire career and reputation in certain circumstances let alone the psychological of that). So even for a big A lister it can be scary where it can lead to even if it isn't about not being paid (cos don't need the money).
The1st - 5/21/2024, 11:14 AM
@Apophis71 - Exactly. MJ wasn't in b-ball games for a LONG time, for a similar example. I don't see him suing Ant Man though lol.
Nightwing1015 - 5/21/2024, 4:27 PM
@Apophis71 - Even if they did use publically available voice recordings of her, not sure how this is illegal. Voice cannot be copyrighted in the same way that likeness can, at least in the USA, so will be surprised if this case goes anywhere.
Apophis71 - 5/21/2024, 4:52 PM
@Nightwing1015 - A LOT of law comes from cases where there was no clear law prior on it, and with America there is the basis for a case with the first amendment alone even if legaly that was only directly related to congress passing laws dictating/restricting speech but there is also likely a fair amount of laws related to voice actors that will also apply.

There was the case for instance with the Baker refusing to make a cake on first amendment grounds as I understand that one, which fell in the bakers favor with the SCotUS on first amendment grounds (ie can't force someone to put speech on a cake they are opposed to on religious grounds), there was no clear law on that either (plus seemed more likely in law to go against discrimination laws) and in this case they are literaly putting words into Scarlett's mouth in effect if they used he audio to build an AI.

If they literaly used audio from a film or films then they could be breaching copyright there too, her voice is as much her property and career with a $ value for lending it to animations and films as her image as an an actor, the strikes last year was mostly all about this sort of thing.

TBH IF they had never approached her and her turn them down she may have had a weaker case but them having tried to illicit consent and form a contract then done it anyway after she refused...
Nightwing1015 - 5/21/2024, 7:12 PM
@Apophis71 - Except there IS prior case law on this issue - Midler v. Ford Motor Co, 1988. Voices were deemed to be non-copyrightable.

"in this case they are literaly putting words into Scarlett's mouth in effect if they used he audio to build an AI."

No they aren't. They made an AI that sounds kinda like her depending on who you ask. No different than if an impressionist attempted to sound like her. I agree with your point about stealing film audio to train the model though, if that happened they could be in trouble. I also agree her turning them down probably doesn't help their case as they can't argue it was an unintentional similarity.
Apophis71 - 5/21/2024, 7:28 PM
@Nightwing1015 - Which makes it a test case which can lead to changes in laws on the books, which there may be sound arguments for with the advances in AI, the actors all went out on strike last year in large part over all of this so after striking a deal on all of that they aren't going to sit back and let tech giants ignore the terms agreed just cos they are not film/TV studios.

The main point being however is she has a good case for disclosure of how they produced the voice of the AI, as in if they used her audio to do so or another voice actor.

It is nowhere near being a case for damages and/or compensation yet and I do agree that currently there isn't a clear case for forcing any payment with prior case law but things change in law all the time hence why we had this flood of cases about using a chord/riff in songs or AI images based in part on existing art and all of that.
Apophis71 - 5/21/2024, 7:59 PM
@Nightwing1015 - BTW I'd point out the Midler case failed at the first step due in part to them actualy hiring others that sounded like the artists they approached and who refused to do the add, rather than using their own voice recording. If the same applies here, as in a sound alike voice actor used a direct case could likely fail if it went to the next level. If however they used audio of ScarJo then if it did go to a damages case it would be an entirely differing set of circumstances. I would however point out that although the Distric court ruled in favour of Ford, the ruling was overturned from what I can ascertain...

The appellate court ruled that the voice of someone famous as a singer is distinctive to their person and image and therefore, as a part of their identity, it is unlawful to imitate their voice without express consent and approval. The appellate court reversed the district court's decision and ruled in favor of Midler, indicating her voice was protected against unauthorized use.

The First Amendment protects much of what the media do in the reproduction of likenesses or sounds. A primary value is freedom of speech and press. Time, Inc. v. Hill, 385 U.S. 374, 388, 87 S.Ct. 534, 542, 17 L.Ed.2d 456 (1967). The purpose of the media's use of a person's identity is central. If the purpose is "informative or cultural" the use is immune; "if it serves no such function but merely exploits the individual portrayed, immunity will not be granted." Felcher and Rubin, "Privacy, Publicity and the Portrayal of Real People by the Media," 88 Yale L.J. 1577, 1596 (1979). Moreover, federal copyright law preempts much of the area. "Mere imitation of a recorded performance would not constitute a copyright infringement even where one performer deliberately sets out to simulate another's performance as exactly as possible." Notes of Committee on the Judiciary, 17 U.S.C.A. § 114(b). It is in the context of these First Amendment and federal copyright distinctions that we address the present appeal.
A voice is more distinctive and more personal than the automobile accouterments protected in Motschenbacher. A voice is as distinctive and personal as a face. The human voice is one of the most palpable ways identity is manifested. We are all aware that a friend is at once known by a few words on the phone. At a philosophical level it has been observed that with the sound of a voice, "the other stands before me." D. Ihde, Listening and Voice 77 (1976). A fortiori, these observations hold true of singing, especially singing by a singer of renown. The singer manifests herself in the song. To impersonate her voice is to pirate her identity. See W. Keeton, D. Dobbs, R. Keeton, D. Owen, Prosser Keeton on Torts 852 (5th ed. 1984).

We need not and do not go so far as to hold that every imitation of a voice to advertise merchandise is actionable. We hold only that when a distinctive voice of a professional singer is widely known and is deliberately imitated in order to sell a product, the sellers have appropriated what is not theirs and have committed a tort in California. Midler has made a showing, sufficient to defeat summary judgment, that the defendants here for their own profit in selling their product did appropriate part of her identity.
Nightwing1015 - 5/21/2024, 8:06 PM
@Apophis71 - The strike last year had nothing to do with the law, it was a private agreement between actors union and the studios, pretty irrelevant in this context. They can challenge some of these models, yes, but pretty pointless seeing as pretty much anyone can make them now and there are thousands online at any given time.

I agree how they produced it might be illegal - but if they used public domain audio of her like interviews or something I think they probably could get away with it.
Nightwing1015 - 5/21/2024, 8:09 PM
@Apophis71 - I agree about your point on imitation as well - this has been found illegal in the past where its clear they were trying to pass off the singer as having actually endorsed the product. I seem to remember a Johnny Cash case along those lines. But if it just sounds like ScarJo without it actually pretending to be her, that's different and I think they might get away with it.
Apophis71 - 5/21/2024, 8:13 PM
@Nightwing1015 - Yeh and I just pointed out how you were wrong when it came to Midler V Ford but as I say this is new ground thus new test cases will start coming up over it regardless prior case law, this is how law works all the time and how new laws come to be in many, many cases but currently this is only a suit for disclosure of how they created the voice, not one for damages.
WhateverItTakes - 5/21/2024, 7:37 AM
miss you baby
99OPTIMISTPRIME - 5/21/2024, 7:47 AM
ScarJo went after Disney and won. Why mess with her at all?😂
NoAssemblyReqd - 5/21/2024, 7:48 AM
They should have a voice that sounds like an exasperated Colin Jost right after he’s been trolled by Michael Che.
BeNice123 - 5/21/2024, 12:48 PM
@NoAssemblyReqd - Micheal Cera would be my pick.
The1st - 5/21/2024, 2:32 PM
@BeNice123 - Don't hold him down. Cerave is a time-consuming endeavor.

BeNice123 - 5/21/2024, 7:08 PM
@The1st - let my cream hydrate you 💀💀💀
MaxPaint - 5/21/2024, 7:51 AM
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OrgasmicPotatoe - 5/21/2024, 8:03 AM
So they were always going to use her voice anyway, asking her was just a last-minute formality.

I hope she sues them to hell.
grouch - 5/21/2024, 8:43 AM
is there any video in which this spurred from? the two videos i've seen of that company and the voice from the phone sounds nothing like her..
Thing94 - 5/21/2024, 9:31 AM
Might want to stay clear of Scarlet Johannsen out there Hollywood - Disney tried screwing her over and that didn't work and rightly so. Now this? Go ScarJo! Haha
DocSpock - 5/21/2024, 10:47 AM

Man, if she ever decides to sue me for the ideas I had involving her.....

whoknows - 5/21/2024, 11:17 AM
@DocSpock - you [frick]ing nerds are weird, go outside.
NateBest - 5/21/2024, 11:19 AM
" closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference." Really?! As good as the AI voice sounds, Scarlett Johansson's voice is MUCH better. I don't think it sounds anything like her...
HulkisHoly - 5/21/2024, 12:02 PM
@NateBest -

On a side note, can you finally ban that Malatrova15 user who only spams garble about Majors and Hunter.

Im not usually into banning users because I believe in free speech but this is just blatant spam/trolling.
BeNice123 - 5/21/2024, 12:45 PM
@HulkisHoly - while hes at it, josh needs to go too.
clintthahamster - 5/21/2024, 12:56 PM
@NateBest - Yeah, I never would have come to that conclusion. This is a stretch.
NateBest - 5/21/2024, 6:50 PM
@HulkisHoly - I'll go take a look. Most of the time I can't figure out what they're trying to say...
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