Equity, the performing arts workers union out of BBC, has launched a new campaign, “Stop AI Stealing the Show,” out of concern that the development of digital voice technology that uses samples of an actor’s voice or face to generate content like automated audiobooks, digital voice-overs, “synthetic” performances, and bring back to life deceased actors. We are seeing more AI “deep fakes” online. Equity wants copyright laws to catch up and protect actors’ control over their image and voices. Equity wants the government to take action to protect performers’ rights and wants reform of copyright laws to “keep pace with technological development.”

In a survey of 430 of its members, the union found that 93% of audio artists felt that AI threatened their employment opportunities. “From automated audiobooks to digital avatars, AI systems are now replacing skilled professional performers,” the union says, “where actors work with AI companies, most do not know their rights, and many are required to sign non-disclosure agreements.”

Actor Talulah Riley who supports the campaign, told the union, “As a performer, it is vital that my voice and image are my own, no matter how easily and cheaply those things can be digitally replicated. I believe that performers must be rewarded fairly for the content we create.”

One respondent to the survey told the union: “In the last six months, my voice has been used in huge marketing campaigns by global companies. I don’t receive a penny, even though I believe my contract does not allow for third-party advertising.”

Equity said: “AI’s increasing capacity to clone human voices presents a substantial risk that the voice owner will either be under-compensated or not paid.

The union argues existing copyright law does not give performers sufficient protection because AI “reproduces performances without generating a recording or a copy.”

The U.K. government has said, “Our national AI strategy has a ten-year vision for seizing the opportunities of the technology, and we will set out our approach to its governance in due course,” a government statement said.

 

– Excerpt from an article for BBC News. Read the full article here.

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