BeyondWords and the Open Voice Network Partner on Voice Actor Protections

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BeyondWords, a synthetic speech company, and the Open Voice Network, a non-profit supported by the Linux Foundation, have released an open contract to help protect the interests of voice actors working in synthetic speech.

The Voice Services Agreement Template (VSAT) covers a range of commercial and contractual areas, encouraging AI voice actors to maintain control over their voice IP and earn royalties from its usage. It was created in response to growing concern over AI voice ethics. Most notably, in September, TikTok settled a lawsuit with voice actor Bev Standing following the unauthorized use of her voice in the platform's text-to-speech feature.

BeyondWords has used the VSAT to form voice agreements with voice actors Jodi Krangle and Adam Lofbomm. Their AI voice clones will be available to eligible paid users on BeyondWords, and they will receive royalties on a cost-per-character basis.

"Synthetic speech has the potential to support voice careers by allowing professionals to earn income from projects where human voice over is infeasible. However, voice actors are understandably concerned about this technology threatening their livelihoods or being used nefariously," James MacLeod, co-founder of BeyondWords, said in a statement. "The industry is rapidly evolving, and there's little information and standardization right now. We wanted to lead a step in the right direction by providing this legal framework. We hope that the VSAT helps voice actors to build fair and rewarding partnerships with AI voice publishers."

"Synthetic speech is an increasingly important part of what is a rapidly growing audio landscape. It will be part of our life in dozens of places, and bring benefits to consumers, voice actors, and businesses, that is, if we can work together to bring widely accepted standards and guidelines to the technology," Jon Stine, executive director of the Open Voice Network, said in a statement. "The Open Voice Network...has been delighted to work with the leadership of BeyondWords to develop a demonstration of synthetic voice, as well as a proposed standard agreement for voice actors and synthetic voice developers. We hope this will provide clarity and a measure of confidence for those working in synthetic speech."

"The VSAT represents a combined effort to address the concerns of both software companies and voice actors in a legal, ethical format. It's a win-win for both parties and I greatly appreciate BeyondWords' and the Open Voice Network's willingness to work with us," Krangle said in a statrement. "Synthetic voices are already here. We can bury our heads in the sand, or we can come up with ways for it to benefit everyone."

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