SAG-AFTRA backs ScarJo against OpenAI's copycat voice usage

SAG-AFTRA, the influential union for television and radio artists, has thrown its support behind Scarlett Johansson after she expressed her ‘shock and disbelief’ over OpenAI’s latest GPT-4o voice sounding “eerily similar" to her own.

The blockbuster actress referring to OpenAI’s latest AI chatbot model which featured the audio-interacting persona in question, named "Sky."

The SAG-AFTRA labor union represents around 160,000 entertainment and media professionals worldwide and is no stranger to fighting for the rights of artists in the dawn of a new AI era. Protections against AI usage of an actor's likeness have become a hotbed issue in Hollywood.

"We thank Ms. Johansson for speaking out on this issue of crucial importance to all SAG-AFTRA members,” a spokesperson for the organization said in response to Johansson’s statement.

“We share in her concerns and fully support her right to have clarity and transparency regarding the voice used in developing the Chat GPT-4o appliance 'Sky,” they said.

Johansson had stated Monday that when she heard the released demo, she was "shocked, angered, and in disbelief," especially over the fact that she had previously declined OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s invitation to use her voice for the advanced GPT model.

Her family was the first to notice the similarities. Since the media coverage, OpenAI has since said it would remove the voice from its products, even though according to Altman, the tech company used another actress to record the voice of ‘Sky.’

"We are pleased that Open AI has responded to these concerns and paused their use of ‘Sky,’ and we look forward to working with them and other industry stakeholders to enshrine transparent and resilient protections for all of us,” the SAG-AFTRA spokesperson said.

The rights to actors' voices and images have become a focal point in the industry, especially as AI-generated images and sounds become harder to distinguish from real ones.

A four-month strike by the union, from July through November, had been instrumental in securing better pay and protections for SAG-AFTRA members and, more importantly, giving actors control over studios' ability to replicate their images and voices using generative AI.

“SAG-AFTRA is championing federal legislation that would protect members' voices and likenesses — and everyone else’s as well — from unauthorized digital replication,” the SAG-AFTRA spokesperson said.

OpenAI launched its newest intuitive AI model, GPT-4o, earlier this month to much fanfare.