Menu PocketGamer.biz
Search
Home   >   News

SAG-AFTRA actors union signs AI deal, enabling voice replicas in games

The deal with Replica Studios will allow video game studios working with the company to access top SAG-AFTRA talent and use their voices in games
SAG-AFTRA actors union signs AI deal, enabling voice replicas in games
  • The deal allows Replica to sign up SAG-AFTRA members to a licencing agreement that allows the company to sell on a digital replica of their voice
  • Now there's an official channel through which to sell famous voices, clearly casting any other means of using a likeness as unauthorised
Stay Informed
Get Industry News In Your Inbox…
Sign Up Today

It's been speculated upon for years and formed a core part of the recent SAG-AFTRA strikes but now The Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has announced today the introduction of a major AI voice agreement during an event at CES.

Now, via Replica Studios technology, game makers (the deal currently exclusively covers video games) can licence and use the voices of SAG-AFTRA members who have signed up for the service. The deal allows Replica to sign up SAG-AFTRA members to a licencing agreement that allows the company to sell on a digital replica of their voice.

In short that means game makers will be able to write in-game dialogue as text, then browse Replica's catalogue of stars and take their pick of AI-modelled replicas to read it. A law-binding deal with Replica and the studio then allows money to change hands with the chosen celebrity recieving payment for precisely zero work. 

The deal essentially ends the current grey area of creating AI voice likenesses unofficially, giving rise to soundalikes and clones of famous voices which deny their true owners any profit from their presence. The agreement now gives SAG-AFTRA members an official channel through which to sell their famous voices, while clearly casting any other means of using their likeness as unauthorised and illegal.

The deal covers any and all uses, from pre-production models through to finished commercially released product.

As yet no famous names have stepped up and declared their sign up.

Entering the uncanny valley

The aim is that with this benchmark in place that actors and voice over artists may finally get paid whenever and wherever their famous voice is used, be it in actuality or via an AI-generated replica with zero involvement from the artist themselves. Contract small print covers everything from the artist being able to ask for and grant consent to what is being said and opt out from re-use and re-adaption for new projects the future.

“Artificial intelligence has dominated the headlines, and for most performers, the best protection against the unauthorized digital simulation of their voice, likeness and/or performance is a SAG-AFTRA contract. We are so happy to partner with Replica Studios, because this is a great example of AI being done right,” said SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher.

“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,” said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. “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 Replica Studios CEO Shreyas Nivas said, “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 recognized 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 synthesize voices without permission.”