The Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) has signed a deal with Replica Studios that would let its membership create a digital replica of their voice.

In a post on the organisation’s website, it said that this would allow voice actors to “safely explore” this new industry under a “fair, ethical agreement” that will apparently let them “safety create and license” this digital replica of their voice to games companies. SAG-AFTRA says that this agreement sets the basis for “fair and equitable employment” in this new field. The deal also requires voice actor consent and allows talent to opt out of the continued use of their voice.

SAG-AFTRA says that this agreement has the approval of its relevant membership but judging by the response on social media, affected members are not happy that they were not consulted. Voice actor Linsay Rousseau has pointed out that membership is not consulted on single company agreements, rather it will have been given the nod by relevant negotiating committee. 

“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’s national exec 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. 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.”

Replica CEO Shreyas Nivas added: “Replica is proud to partner with SAG-AFTRA to introduce an ethical approach to the emerging use of generative AI. We are excited by the new opportunities this opens up for world-leading AAA studios who can now access the benefits of Replica’s AI voice technology while knowing that talent is recognised and compensated fairly for the use of their likeness. Our voice actor agreements ensure that game developers using our platform are only accessing licensed talent who have given permission for their voice to be used as a training data set, as opposed to the wild west of AI platforms using unethical data-scraping methods to replicate and synthesise voices without permission.”

In September 2023, SAG-AFTRA members working in the games industry voted to go on strike over, among other things, the increased use of AI in game development. 

“For many performers, their first job may be their last, as companies become increasingly eager to scan our members or train AI with their voices as soon as they show up for work,” the union wrote at the time. 


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