SAG-AFTRA Signs Deal With Replica Studios for AI Voice Usage

The agreement comes just months after the strike, where a major sticking point was the use of AI

Fran Drescher and Duncan Crabtree-Ireland at a press conference following the board's approval of the new SAG-AFTRA contract (Getty Images)

Replica Studios, an artificial intelligence voice technology company, and SAG-AFTRA announced Tuesday the introduction of a groundbreaking AI voice agreement during an event at CES.

The new agreement “paves the way for professional voice over artists to safely explore new employment opportunities for their digital voice replicas with industry-leading protections tailored to AI technology, allowing AAA video game studios and other companies working with Replica to access top SAG-AFTRA talent,” according to the official release.

The agreement between Replica, described as “the leading AI voice company” and the union will, according to the release, “enable Replica to engage SAG-AFTRA members under a fair, ethical agreement to safely create and license a digital replica of their voice. Licensed voices can be used in video game development and other interactive media projects from pre-production to final release.”

It should be noted that the agreement was approved by affected members of the union’s voiceover performer community and the contract for the deal is described as “an important step towards the ethical use of AI voices in creative projects by game developers, and sets the basis for fair and equitable employment of voice actors as they explore the new revenue opportunities provided by AI.” The agreement will establish minimum terms and conditions and ensures performer consent and negotiation for uses of their “digital voice double” and requires that the performers have the opportunity to opt out of their voice double’s continued use in new works. That seems good.

“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,” SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher said in an official statement.

“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 in an official statement. “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 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,” said Shreyas Nivas, CEO of Replica Studios, in an official statement. “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.”

This deal follows a few months after the SAG-AFTRA strike was successfully resolved. But one of the sticking points for the strike – and the concurrent WGA strike – involved actors’ likenesses and the use of A.I.


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