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SAG-AFTRA Secures Deal for Licensing "Digital Voice Replicas" in Video Games

Intellectual and personal property has been a contentious issue since the emergence of generative AI. In a new deal, SAG-AFTRA, the union for actors and actresses, is ensuring that performers are properly compensated for the use of their voices in video games.

The union has inked a deal with AI voice platform Replica Studios, announced at CES 2024. The studio uses text-to-speech AI to generate spoken language but is also capable of mimicking the voice of a human actor. The contract enables SAG-AFTRA to license their voices to video games while protecting their likenesses.

Video game studios will need permission to create “digital voice replicas” of actors and actresses. SAG-AFTRA will work with game developers and Replica Studios to establish a minimum rate for which they must compensate the voice owner, as well as how and where the voice can be used.

Each individual contract will be subject to negotiation. Beyond a timeframe for when the voice can be used, performers will be given the option to opt out of their voice being used in future projects, for instance, later installments in a given gaming franchise.

“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,” SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said. “With this agreement, we have achieved fully informed consent and fair compensation when it comes to the use of our members' voices and performances.