OpenAI accused of using Scarlett Johansson’s voice without consent to train AI system

Occurred: May 2024

Actress Scarlett Johansson accused OpenAI of using a voice “eerily similar” to hers for their new GPT-4o chatbot without her consent.

GPT-4o is the latest AI model by OpenAI that can process text, audio, and visual inputs and generate corresponding outputs. It offers a voice chat feature with five distinct output voices for lifelike interactions.

One of the voices, Sky, caused controversy over its similarity to Johansson’s voice in the movie Her. Johansson expressed shock and anger at the similarity between her voice and the AI’s, stating that even her closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference. She also hired lawyers  to investigate how the company created the voice.

OpenAI’s co-founder, Sam Altman, is reported to have approached Johansson with a request to use her voice likeness in September, however Johansson declined the offer. 

In response to the controversy, OpenAI paused the use of Sky’s voice,  denied  use of Scarlett Johansson’s voice”, and  clarified they used another  professional actress for the voice of Sky, who had been cast before their outreach to Johansson. The company claimed that all the actors behind their GPT-4o chatbot voices had signed agreements and had been compensated. 

The case highlights the difficulties in defining and protecting voice likeness due to its subjective nature. Proposed regulations such as the Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security (ELVIS) Act and the No Artificial Intelligence Fake Replicas And Unauthorised Duplications Act (No AI FRAUD Act) are steps towards addressing these issues.

Operator: OpenAI

Developer: OpenAI

Country: Global

Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts

Purpose: Chatbot

Technology: Generative AI; Machine learning; Neural network; Deep learning; NLP/text analysis; Deepfake - audio; Chatbot

Issue: Personality rights