Well, here are some things that aren't really being disputed:

* OpenAI wanted an AI voice that sounds like SJ

* SJ declined

* OpenAI got an AI voice that sounds like SJ anyway

I guess they want us to believe this happened without shenanigans, but it's bit hard to.

The headline of the article is a little funny, because records can't really show they weren't looking for an SJ sound-alike. They can just show that those records didn't mention it. The key decision-makers could simply have agreed to keep that fact close-to-the-vest -- they may have well understood that knocking off a high-profile actress was legally perilous.

Also, I think we can readily assume OpenAI understood that one of their potential voices sounded a lot like SJ. Since they were pursuing her they must have had a pretty good idea of what they were going after, especially considering the likely price tag. So even if an SJ voice wasn't the original goal, it clearly became an important goal to them. They surely listened to demos for many voice actors, auditioned a number of them, and may even have recorded many of them, but somehow they selected one for release who seemed to sound a lot like SJ.

The thing that worried me initially was that:

- the original report by Scarlett said she was approached months ago, and then two days prior to launch of GPT-4o she was approached again

Because of the above, my immediate assumption was that OpenAI definitely did her dirty. But this report from WaPo debunks at least some of it, because the records they have seen show that the voice actor was contacted months in advance prior to OpenAI contacting Scarlett for the first time. (also goes to show just how many months in advance OpenAI is working on projects)

However, this does not dispel the fact that OpenAI did contact Scarlett, and Sam Altman did post the tweet saying "her", and the voice has at least "some" resemblance of Scarlett's voice, at least enough to have two different groups saying that it does, and the other saying that it does not.

I never comment on HN I’ve just always been a long time lurker but I feel like I’m going crazy here reading comments.

SJ is not the “AI” portrayed in the movie her. And AFAIK she does not in fact have all the same idiosyncrasies and tones in real life as the voice does in the movie because she was in fact directed to act like that.

Not only that but the voices are not the same because there was another actress for sky as we have seen.

To me It seems as if the case for SJ is DOA unless it comes out somehow that they in fact trained on her voice specifically. But since that doesn’t seem like the case I have no idea how SJ can legally own all voices that sound like hers.

It would obviously be a different story if OpenAI were saying that sky was SJ but that’s not the case. To me the question should be is “can the studio own the character in her that openAI was copying and any similar things”. Which given that systems like SIRI were already out there in the world when the movie came out and we knew this tech was on the way. The answer should be no but IANAL.

I’m not a huge fan of OpenAI anymore and I think they deserve criticism for many things. But this situation isn’t one of them.

Clarification: Of course if it turns out that they in fact trained on SJ or altered the voice to be more like hers then I’d think differently. I still think the studio has more of a claim though look from the outside and not being a lawyer.

Edit: clarification

When I first used ChatGPT's voice assistant's I was like "Wow, this one is clearly Scarlett Johansson from Her, they even copy her mannerisms."

No amount of unverifiable "records" (just pieces of paper provided by somebody who has a multimillion dollar incentive to show one outcome) will change my mind.

But if they can produce the actual voice artist I'd be more open-minded.

This whole thing is starting to feel like another Sam Altman spotlight production. There's enough evidence to show no wrongdoing, but it was handled in a way to make people think there was a scandal. Maximum spotlight for relatively low risk. I wonder if people will get tired of being jerked around like this.
People see what they want to see.

If it wasn't for us being biased by the surrounding circumstances I don't think people would have confused their voices. Their voices are not that similar. I probably personally know people with a voice as similar to SJ as Sky's. You probably do too.

The voice actress says the same: "I’ve never been compared to her by the people who do know me closely."

But then suddenly a story emerges and their voices are indistinguishable. All of these extra details shouldn't have even mattered.

I never made the connection between the Sky voice and Scarlett Johansson's. I've seen many of her movies. She has an extremely distinctive voice that has a certain huskiness to it and the Sky voice totally lacks that.

Some voices are sexy and both of them fall into that category -- but that's beside the point.

That aside, it is genuinely pleasant to have a conversation with chatGPTo and some of that has to do with the voices. There's a kind of irony here because people generally imagined that AI would be cold, logical, unempathetic, etc. But LLMs are the opposite; they're extremely polite and deferential. Meanwhile they aren't that good at logic!

I think it's pretty obvious that OpenAI had decided at an early stage that the new voice should resemble the voice of SJ in "Her", regardless of which voice actresses they then contacted and in which sequence.
I was perusing some Simpsons clips this afternoon and came across a story to the effect of "So and so didn't want to play himself, so Dan Castellaneta did the voice." It's a good impression and people didn't seem very upset about that. I am not sure how this is different. (Apparently this particular "impression" predates the Her character, so it's even easier to not be mad about. It's just a coincidence. They weren't even trying to sound like her!)

I read a lot of C&D letters from celebrities here and on Reddit, and a lot of them are in the form of "I am important so I am requesting that you do not take advantage of your legal rights." I am not a fan. (If you don't want someone to track how often you fly your private jet, buy a new one for each trip. That is the legal option that is available to you. But I digress...)

I can't help but think that this was all planned. It is a very intricately planned, and geniously executed marketing ploy to make sure everyone knows about the company, the new release, that there is voice now, and even makes everyone look into it just to "see for themselves". Whether this was in with ScarJo in the loop or not, does not really change the outcome, but would be a nice information we probably will never get, in order to understand how cut-throat whoever came up with this idea actually is.

I am impressed

> an actress was hired to create the Sky voice months before Altman contacted Johansson

> the actress confirmed that neither Johansson nor the movie “Her” were ever mentioned by OpenAI. The actress’s natural voice sounds identical to the AI-generated Sky voice, based on brief recordings

Given this I don't think anyone at OpenAI did anything wrong in this instance except Sam Altman. After getting explicitly rejected by Johansson he should not have asked again and definitely should not have referenced her character in that tweet. And this whole thing could have been avoided if they just used a different voice for the demo instead of their voice that happened to sound the most like her.

They should have learned from Weird Al. Famously, he technically doesn't need permission to do song parodies but he asks anyway and respects the artist's wishes if they say no.

I listened to a few clips of each and was expecting them to sound more similar than they do.

Sure they're both female voices with some similarities, but they sound like distinctly different people if you listen to the two back to back.

The press says Sky voice is indistinguishable from Scarlett Johansson, but I hear zero similarities to her voice in any of her films. Besides, of course, that it is a standard-issue unaccented white anglo female.
Then why pull the voice in the first place?

If it goes to court I’m sure discovery will unearth a bunch of emails and slack messages pertaining to this as well as documentation about the make up of their training sets and casting and performance notes for the voice talent. Hopefully they’re under legal hold now.

Quote from the Post article:

But while many hear an eerie resemblance between “Sky” and Johansson’s “Her” character, an actress was hired to create the Sky voice months before Altman contacted Johansson, according to documents, recordings, casting directors and the actress’s agent.

Kind of concerning to see so much sketchbag behaviour from possibly the top AI company so consistently. Sure brings a lot of confidence in the future and sad that they can get away with it and still succeed because of the tech and their big names.

It feels like it took years before people started hating Google and Tesla, but these guys wasted very little time pretending to be good.

Do I still pay for and use them? Unfortunately yes, but I won't spend a second defending them or thinking they are trying to do anything remotely good, safe or ethical. Once things settle and hopefully someone else takes over, I can move my money elsewhere.

In today's climate you are considered guilty until you prove you are innocent. People who accused you don't have to show any proof.
Hiring a different voice artist might show that they didn't use deepfake technology to imitate Johansson’s voice, but it absolutely doesn't prove that the voice isn't an imitation and one for which they would have been liable under existing law.
In the movie “Her”, there is a smart AI assistant that you can talk to and is friendly and has good natural language.

How is it not obvious to everybody that this is what Sam and the OpenAI people are referencing with their tweets?

Scarlett Johanssons voice is certainly pleasing, but it feels misplaced to assume that the voice is the important thing here and not everything else.

The whole thing was absurd. The voice doesnt even sound like her
Anyone who thought OpenAI would just take SJ voice isn’t thinking things thoroughly but anyone that doesn’t see the request as a courtesy and the follow-up as a ‘get behind this or get nothing’ is blind. This was a strong arm move with SJ’s concept was always optional. It’d of been good press. Now that it’s the opposite, they’ll still get the voice they wanted but everyone will forget why a shitty move this within a month. To me, the worst part is how this makes Sam Altman to be a completely asshole with no sympathy. SJ made a movie, she wanted to live it at that. Sam Altman forced her to represent a product, forever. That’s fucked up.
Huge discussion 2 days ago [0](1497 points, 1001 comments), related [1](141 points, 191 comments)



It seems increasingly difficult for common people to protect their voices, especially when even Scarlett Johansson can't manage it. As a part-time voice actor with a unique voice, I'm concerned about what I should do if my voice is used without permission and the company denies it. How can I protect myself in such a situation?
It's a sign of the times when OpenAI tacitly encourages forming a relationship with a computer system, and controversy erupts over IP rights for voice actors.

Higher-minded discussions certainly take place on a range of issues in AI. Can I rely on my AI to tell the truth? Is it ethical to use an AI for military applications? How do I make sure my AI doesn't turn into Archie Bunker? Even (IMO) fringe issues like whether it will exterminate humanity.

It would seem that those are rather abstract concerns. It would seem that your average person mostly cares about who's getting paid.

OpenAI is running laps around the media and everyone is eating it up

Notice that every month or so they have a few new “scandals” with high intrigue but noticeably iron clad legal and political “cover your ass” investments/ politicking

Meanwhile they are getting deep into bed with Apple, making an admarket (worst possible case scenario for users IMO) and generally cementing all of these commercial inroads for revenue

I’d be impressed if it weren’t so destructive and psychotic

No press is bad press

I can’t help but think this is a matter of bias. I think the voice sounds a bit like Scarlett Johansson. But I’ve been told by two different people that I sound like Charlie Sheen… when I’m on the phone.

This feels a bit to me like confirmation bias: “OpenAI is selling an AI voice tool just like in that movie! Surely that’s what they’re going for!”

That said, the fact that they contacted her twice about it does feel awfully suspicious

As soon as Scarlett Johansson said "no" (which I assume is true), OpenAI needed to go in very different directions to avoid anything that might look bad. It doesn't matter if they used a sound-alike or built a model from actual source material; anything would look bad. It looks especially bad when the company insists chatbot outputs are synthesized and not copyright infringement.
Some people die due to hunger, some people die due to wars, some people die due to curable diseases, but somehow, what matters most for some folks is whether OpenAI copied the voice of Scarlett Johansson.

Human mind is a curious place.

Is there even a general consensus on likeness protection? I’m not gonna defend OAI ever now, but tbh the concept of likeness feels too stretched to me. If one naturally looks, sounds or behaves like the other, do they violate their rights? How can likeness be illegal if it’s not a direct theft of their work? Are photos of movie stars illegal to print? Where does likeness end? Is likeness yours even or does it live in people’s minds?

I can make enough arguments and counterarguments, but this whole thing doesn’t sound convincing. If I want to change my voice to sound like Michael Jackson and walk like him, no one’s business if I do that and publicly.

I understand the concerns of “looks and sound” models here, but the reality changes with time and thick ice becomes thin, you have to adapt too. Progress isn’t responsible for everyone’s job, especially if it’s built on such an ephemeral concept. That only worked for a while.

Sama has gone silent. It’s plausible they’re in negotiations or settlement talks with SJ. But he doesn’t often go silent. Even when he’s losing his job.
Convenient story for a company that's proven difficult to trust at every possible turn.
I thought this was a right-of-publicity case where the "her" tweet basically misled people to believe the voice is of Scarlett Johansson, who's against the use of AI tech like any other Hollywood people?
The issue is Sam even asking SJ. And then sending her another ask before the release.

If they just released, people would be like hey it’s like “Her”.

Sky doesn’t sound like SJ. It’s a different voice.

Sam didn’t have to tweet “her”.

The problem with CEOs is they can’t keep their mouths shut. Same with Elon. They have God complex and need to be center of attention.

If Elon just kept it to science memes, Tesla would be a much larger company.

But they can’t keep their heads down and execute. They gotta be out there with their megaphones alienating the very crowd that got them there.

At this point, I feel OpenAI would be a more successful company without Sam.

"The actors should be nonunion."

Five small, unremarked-upon words that illustrate OpenAI's positioning perfectly.

Why did OpenAI comply with Johansson’s Cease and Desist letter and take the voice down? If they legit hired a different actress their response should have been “Go ahead and sue us”.
Tom Waits provides the template here. He successfully sued Cheetos for impersonation. The major similarity: Waits, like Johansson, declined an offer to use his voice in advertising.
It's always the least significant thing that everyone cares the most about. Because people are stupid.

This one case is a pretty grey area. But what is not is the voice cloning tools like Eleven Labs which can and do clone voices very well.

Forget about stealing one person's voice. Or a lot of people's voices. This technology will soon be able to replace everyone's skillset. Give it 2-5 years.

This type of reaction is how we know that humans will not maintain control of the planet for much longer.

Why don't I get to choose the voice I interact with. More and more it feels like "AI" is gonna be a 1%er gate-kept corporate curated "experience" with significant guard-rails and fences and walls and moats and signs telling me to keep off the grass.

The wealthy and powerful will again monopolize this power for their own benefit despite AI being the product of the sum of human technological civilization.

Technically? Maybe not. In spirit? Sure as heck.
> One thing the artificial intelligence company didn’t request, according to interviews with multiple people involved in the process and documents shared by OpenAI in response to questions from The Washington Post: a clone of actress Scarlett Johansson.

Open AI found records to show they did nothing wrong in response to questions from WaPo

I think it's really problematic that the government is protecting voice actor's careers. It's like if they disallowed cars on the roads to protect horse carriages. Clearly with the new technology a whole economic sector is gone and irrelevant over night. Now amateurs and small projects can afford to add good sounding voices to their creations. This is good news in the end

The same goes for actors and their likenesses ... just stop protecting ultra wealthy celebrities. They'll be a bit poorer, but they're going to be okay. You're just holding back progress

I can imagine in a decade some place like China which doesn't care about protecting celebrities will have movies with dozens of Tom Cruises Arnolds and Johansson's and will just be pumping out better quality content at affordable budgets. Young talented directors won't be hamstrung by these legal roadblocks

OpenAI already won anyways. Either they'll pay a fine to Johansson or settle out of court.

But the media hype effect the demo was supposed to bring has already happened, so they don't really need the voice anymore.

The fine will be the cost of doing advertising/marketing, they absolutely knew what they were doing.

I always get suspicious when it's a company providing records saying they didn't do something, especially when they have access to technology that can be used to produce documentation that appears to be legitimate but was completely computer-generated.
I don't really care either way, but one thing that seems odd to me is how unlikable people seem to find the other voices (myself included)

If this were the massive creative effort they make it out to be, it seems like they'd have netted another solid result or two

To all those going around in circles debating the legality of hiring similar-sounding voice actors (spoiler: it’s still illegal) there’s a great round up post by Zvi M on this — you want to be looking here if you’re interested:

Props for Scarlett for turning down what was likely a big chunk of change. I can see how being the official voice of AI could turn out to be counter productive for her in the longer run
Of course, it’s possible that the intent or otherwise wasn’t the objective. They’ve succeeded in bringing together several associations which allude to a sophisticated and peaceful future for all of us, in spite of the possibility of any minor legal hiccups. Whether the man with something of the dark about him was responsible, involved or unaware, the company continues to lay out its strategy, concerns and targets in plain sight. I’ll try to remain outside of this chaotic arena.
> On Monday, Johansson cast a pall over the release of improved AI voices for ChatGPT, alleging that OpenAI had copied her voice

False reporting. The SJ statement contains no such allegation.

Why would they want a seductive sexy voice like SJ anyway. That’s just distracting and not conducive to the AI product being helpful or increasing productivity.
OpenAI and sama should get no benefit of doubt given his conduct the past year or so, starting with their refusal to say whether or not they trained on youtube data.
Ethics aside - if anyone thinks chatGPT didn’t walk through the legality of there moves beforehand and their procedures they followed (which I'm sure are documented) I would be shocked. They are moving fast but id be certain that they knew they had relatively good legal footing. Johansson is rightfully taking them to court - likely this is all maneuvering for a settlement.

Either way this brings up artists rights in an AI world which is a good thing.

What do you think? Is it possible to give a polite, slightly anxious translator bot a metallic-sounding British accent without having to pay C-3PO's voice actor?
Has the default voice on the mobile app changed in the last few weeks. I don't recall what voice name I had selected before, but it was amazing quality. I thought the voice was Rashida Jones [1] whose voice is in some ways similar to SJ.


Oh goodness, this is just the kind of behavior that shows how incapable OpenAI and Altman himself are of conducting their business in a responsible manner. Just the thing you don't want to see in the field of AI. Up next, SJ AI generated revenge porn in retaliation for her causing the ruckus. Of course, completely disassociated from anything at OpenAI (wink, wink).
A voice isn't owned. It exists as a transient event of sound waves moving through space, shaped and modulated by the atmosphere, surfaces, and distances. Without a medium and the presence of listeners, these vibrations are meaningless. Thus, a voice exists only as a form of interaction with its physical environment. It's a communal event that doesn't belong to anyone.
Is someone's voice their IP? Is it more-valuable property because they are famous? What type of IP? Trademark? Without their name and image in combination, is a voice/likeness actually defensible?

Training a computer to have any actual-human sounding voice is likely to almost match someone's voice.

I haven't taken an IP class since 2004, but I'm not sure if there's a real case here is there?

If Right to Publicity laws indeed favor Scarlet here, then the law is really outdated and needs to catch up with the current paradigm.

A company wanted a voice, had something in their minds, approached a voice actor who has a similar voice to what they have in mind, got rejected, then approached next candidate and worked with her. Simple as that. If this is illegal, I don't know what is legal.

When I first used ChatGPT the voice was similar enough that I thought to myself “oh that’s cool they got Johansson to do the voice.”
Maybe she’s attractive because she meets a very median set of attractiveness characteristics.

I.e. maybe being hot is actually less about being unique and more anout being consistent.

Maybe sultry female voices only have so much variety.

I didn’t think of Scarjo during the demo. That said, I don’t need robots to be sexy, so it doesn’t matter.

I feel the real goal is to slow OpenAI down with distractions.

I'm pretty confused throughout the whole thing, because I never got to hear the damn voice that sounded so similar to SJ! The demo voice was overly dramatic, and sounded nothing like her IMO. I've searched everywhere and couldn't find the "Sky" voice (I guess because they took it down?).
It's just annoying enough that they launched a product using a voice that sounded similar enough to generate such a controversy, why, if you had the all great "generative AI" systems at your finger tips you couldn't just generate some other completely random voice is beyond me.
If they are so confident that they didn't copy her voice, then why did they pull that character/version?
An interesting thing about this vocal similarity is using

If you pick a particular genre, sometimes the output can feel like many similar singers voices merged together... and not.

I remember noticing the Sky voice going away, and mannerisms aside it felt a little more expressive and upbeat than I expected.

As someone who watched the 4o demo, enjoys MCU works, and saw Her, but wasn't even aware of the connection between Black Widow and Samantha (no idea who SJ was until this whole thing), a lot of the comments on this post are absolutely ridiculous.
A lot of comments seem to forget that she was reached out to two years before, ignoring that and going straight to the line about working with a voice actor for months then them asking SJ one more time.

Additionally, glad no one here is a lawyer and should stick in their lane.

It doesn't really matter now, the thought has already crept inside most people's minds, whether they copied her voice or didn't.

Sam probably should have changed the voice as soon as Scarlett noped out from the deal. All this furore could have been avoided.

We are getting into the details of what is copying. If you can find someone with the identical voice who is a different person, is that all it takes? It seems to me the intention was to hire someone who sounded like the character from Her.
If you're interested in the background of voice trademark lawsuits, Tom Waits is a great deep dive:

If using a different voice actor to imitate someone is ok, then why did the George Carlin videos get in so much trouble and have to be taken down?

This would be a loop hole to imitate anybody. Including in music right? Like using imitations of Tupac.

When the original news broke, I don’t think the assumption was ever they actually used her voice as of course they would be sued instantly. But rather they wanted her especially after her Her movie, but of course to be safe first got another woman to record one that would sound very similar and then later ask Johansson to hopefully get her instead. She said no so they tried one more time before releasing and she still said so no so went with the very much like her but not her version and made reference to the Her movie to leave little doubt who you should think of when listening to that voice. So doesn’t seem like the above news changes any of that other than at least confirming they didn’t completely go off the rails and actually clone her voice from her actual content without permission which would have been insane.
People are completely missing the point in this thread. This is a civil action where the plaintiff need only prove their case based on the preponderance of the evidence.

The case law is clear and it is linked all up and down these threads so I won't reproduce here. It does not matter if it was a voice actor who sounded just like her, or if it was a trained AI voice that never used a single recording from ScarJo, what matters is if OpenAI intended to gain from reproducing the likeness of Scarjo. Intent is the key, not even how similar the voices are or the source.

Given that the Jury of average joes will be given this instruction directly by the judge, you can almost hear the plaintiff's lawyers case. "OpenAI contacted Scarlett 9 months before release asking to use her voice. She refused. OpenAI contacted her two days before release again asking to use her voice and she refused. Then, just prior to launch the CEO of the company tweets "Her" despite the fact that they could not secure an agreement with my client. The CEO of OpenAI, when engaged in a massive launch and PR campaign, referenced the likeness of my client in a clear attempt to produce economic benefit."

The two contacts before made the case 50/50 from the plaintiff's perspective. sama tweeting "Her" right before the launch is him spiking the football in his own endzone. The defense only has technicalities. At the civil level of burden of proof this is an absolute slam dunk case for the plaintiff. OpenAI will settle for a very large undisclosed amount of money. No way they let this go in front of a civil jury.

Does anyone not find any proof of intent between Sam's tweet ("Her"), Karpathy's tweet ("The killer app of LLMs is Scarlett Johansson.") and the name Sky "SCarlett AI" itself?
>an actress was hired in June to create the Sky voice, months before Altman contacted Johansson, according to documents, recordings,...

documents, recordings,... these days can be artificially created if I'm not mistaken?

Imo it doesn't sound like SJ and if they can produce the actual recorded voice lines from the actress they used and whatever model they used to clone her voice it will be trivial to prove that if need be.
@sama has done a good job at portraying himself as an elon/zuck hybrid visionary. he's either going to deliver on the agi promise or be the next @sbf_ftx. there's no in between.
Unless they can point to a voice actor that they did copy. It will be very difficult for them to prove that it wasn't trained to replicate Scarlett Johansen. Was the model trained on movies? were annotators instructed to compare to the movie "Her" - lots of ways to see this become problematic.

The fact that Sam Altman was requesting a licensing deal days before launch would suggest that they had a known problem that the model was too close to Scarlett Johansen's voice. In the generous case, this could come down to a few documents from product conception indicating that they wanted the model to replicate the movie "Her."

Says the paper that just entered into an agreement with OpenAi
You know they're lying because their mouth is moving.
the best they could do, with the full resources of OpenAI, is get some second hand quotes from a supposed agent to the supposed actress

strange, no?

I hope they produce all proofs of their innocence with AI. Maybe some people will open theirs eyes in 20-30 years after finding such records :D
Nice way to hijack some public attention on both party. I have no doubt they will both financially benefit from this in a way or in an other.
Sky sounds more like Rashida Jones than SJ, to me.
The whole outrage is so stupid. It is a very stupid fact of our modern capitalist system that some people can get a ton of money just for who they are, after becoming famous for various reasons (a lot of luck for many). It is just not fair that some people can get so much money without doing any real work while most of the regular people have to work their ass off just to survive. It is worse than unfair; it is terribly inefficient.

In this case they even tried to do the right thing and offered her compensation. She declined, probably because she thought it wasn't enough money (never underestimate the vanity/cupidity of women).

In the end they showed that they were just being "nice": they don't even need her work output of voice acting, they can just create a similar enough version just fine.

And the fact is that it isn't her voice. She didn't do the work, she refused. It also should be clear that there is bound to be another woman in the world with similar physical characteristics that has a voice close enough to her. She just cannot own a particular voice characteristic, she could have owned the work associated with her voice acting, but she refused.

The whole outrage is just dumb, I really hope she loses in court because otherwise it is going to set a very problematic precedent.

They are enough people in the world profiteering from various position without actually doing the equivalent work value that we don't need to get them even more money.

A sensational lie spread much quicker than the truth even on HN, with no sign of course correction.

I hope Sam feels fine after so much baseless harassment.

Headline presents a premise that represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the law. You don’t have to actually use the person in question to be found liable for what OpenAI is accused of doing.

Famous case here is Back to the Furure Part II where the producers hired another actor and used prosthetics to look like Crispin Glover. Crispin isn’t actually in the move but people thought he was because they used tech to make it look like it was him.

Sam tweeting “Her” is sort of the smoking gun here in showing it was their intention to make people think it was the same voice. Whether or not it actually was doesn’t matter per precedent in the law. What matters is that they tried to make people think it was Johansson. Sam’s tweet handed OpenAI’s lawyers a dumpster fire.

OpenAI could also introduce the actor they hired more prominently. But that doesn't seem to come forward as of yet.
This headline should be _some_ records show.
If AI isn't going to be voiced like Majel Barrett, this isn't a future I'm especially interested in.

Computer, end program.

Every week they get free publicity. Sam Altman is a PR genius. Just look at how much discussion he generates.
Could he not just have bought the rights from the studio that owns “Her”, and have been in the clear?
Nice of Jeff to do give Sam some free PR crisis management. Class solidarity brings a tear to my eye.
What also concerns me is the piggybacking on the entire likeness crafted by the artist responsible for the actual movie Her.

Did OpenAI pay any amount of credit to the artist responsible for the free creative direction they copied for their AI's voice? I would imagine more than the voice actor, the person responsible for casting Scarlett and writing the movie would deserve something.

As an aside, I find it bewildering the hate for success that I see on this site. Ostensibly, the readers are either Startup founder adjacent who are dying for OpenAI's success, or Techie/intellectual types, which I assume aren't looking for monetary success and I would have thought would not be bothered by someone else going on a completely different path.
It's actually a Japanese actress doing an impression of Scarlett Johansson.
Whether they intended to sound like her or not, it doesn't sound like her.
OepnAI may have not copied but they sefinitely "sampled" the voice.
so how would the process of training a speaking AI go ? would you input the actor voice samples and subtitles from a movie, then train it till the output is similar enough to the actors voice from the movie ?
Get tapes from 100 actors. Select the one who sounds closest to Scarlett
Completely sidestepping whether OpenAI did a scummy or underhanded thing here: I don't find Sky's voice to be all that close to Scarlett Johansson's. Scarlet has a "hoarseness" to her voice that is completely missing from Sky. It's difficult to describe, but you can see hear it in any clip from the movie Her, but that's what she actually sounds like in most movies.

I can completely buy that they were looking for a voice actress that sounded kind of like Scarlett, but this mimic isn't perfect because it misses this "raspiness".

Can it be argued that they copied "Her" voice, not Scarlett Johansson’s voice?

I mean, yes, Scarlett Johansson is the actress, but she is not playing herself in the movie. I didn't watch the movie, but I guess she matched her voice to the character, an AI called Samantha, who is not Scarlett Johansson.

It is not like the "Midler vs Ford" case that is often referred to. Where Ford hired a singer to sound like Midler, but that's Midler singing as Midler, not acting a fictional character.

Maybe Warner Bros could complain, they are the owners of the character OpenAI imitates. In the same way that Disney (rather than Scarlett Johansson) would complain if someone used the Black Widow character without permission.

Is funny seeing some peoples head get yanked back and forth because they have a predetermined bias against Sam and OpenAI. Critical thinking would have saved you the trouble.
end of IP era. Content produced by ai is expressed as generated. which means most of that products are generated not copied.
Does Altman really think that was the goal, to “win”?

To defeat Scarlett Johanssen?

The point is it’s the wrong thing to do, regardless of whether or not he can legally get away with it.

No wonder Silicon Valley’s reputation for ethical behavior is in the toilet.

Welcome to our incredible future where massive AI models will require us to choose between our lying eyes/ears and indecipherable collection of tensors. Nothing will be provable or protectable.
If we remove the “well technically” bs, they did copy her voice and they did so deliberately, the only detail they hide behind is that they did so in a less direct way than they could have done it.
but how could you falsify all those records so quickly and convincingly, oh nm
So if you just so happen to hire someone that coincidentally sounds like "her", and you haven't even seen the movie, no harm no foul, right? Afterall, the alternate voice actress has a right to use their voice as well.

But if you deliberately seek out the actress who voiced "her" and then happen to get a similar sounding alternate after the "her" actress refuses, you're in legal violation. Is that right?

I'd like to have seen this go to court.

Honestly, I didn't think it sounded remotely like her. Even after the allegation surfaced and I went back and listened, I still don't think it sounds anything like Scarlett Johansson.
This article is a paid hit-piece. Trumpian language and all: “people are saying—very good people, the best people—that the voice wasn’t copied. It was a perfect call.” It is so obvious that her voice was stolen, and they are paying to try to cover it up.
yeah but, "kind of" copied, and samalt reinforced that with refering to "her" in this tweet.

samalt is walking in the shadows of ethical/non-ethical line and he seems obviously is proficient in that.

however, even in such cases he does not hesitate to walk in the border of non-ethical is worrisome for the future of the ethics in ai.

Oh cool we're currently in the gaslighting phase after someone gets caught doing something they shouldn't.
Funny how this post was up on the front page after twelve hours.
Protected voice? Pianos all sound the same, how come they aren’t protected?

Voice is just an instrument. I love finding reasons to hate on big tech, but “it sounds like Me” (intentional or not) is bullshit. If I build a piano that sounds just like your piano… tough luck there are two pianos now.

Yeh, we can tell.
While legally there is probably no recourse, the business goodwill with consumers is gone.

Scarlett Johansson has a lot of fans, and they will now see your company as a problem.

Legally you might get a pass... but business wise it is a big Nope... nerd hubris strikes again. =)

So the hard claim in the headline is based on this thought process: If they didn’t specifically mention Scarlett Johansson or Her to the voice actress, this proves they weren’t trying to copy it. Seriously? Awful journalism, sorry.
Comments full of people reading the headline and assuming that what OpenAI did here is fine because it's a different actress, but that's not how "Right of publicity" (*) laws work. The article itself explains that there is significant legal risk here:

> Mitch Glazier, the chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America, said that Johansson may have a strong case against OpenAI if she brings forth a lawsuit.

> He compared Johansson’s case to one brought by the singer Bette Midler against the Ford Motor Co. in the 1980s. Ford asked Midler to use her voice in ads. After she declined, Ford hired an impersonator. A U.S. appellate court ruled in Midler’s favor, indicating her voice was protected against unauthorized use.

> But Mark Humphrey, a partner and intellectual property lawyer at Mitchell, Silberberg and Knupp, said any potential jury probably would have to assess whether Sky’s voice is identifiable as Johansson.

> Several factors go against OpenAI, he said, namely Altman’s tweet and his outreach to Johansson in September and May. “It just begs the question: It’s like, if you use a different person, there was no intent for it to sound like Scarlett Johansson. Why are you reaching out to her two days before?” he said. “That would have to be explained.”

* A.K.A. "Personality rights":

Yes, how dare another woman have a voice that might somewhat sound like Scarlett?
They should rename the voice:


Come on OpenAI - do it!

Actual Washington Post title:

>OpenAI didn’t copy Scarlett Johansson’s voice for ChatGPT, records show

>>A different actress was hired to provide the voice for ChatGPT’s “Sky,” according to documents and recordings shared with the Washington Post.

You can hear both voices for yourself and tell they are different, but y'all such NPCs you just believe the bullcrap the media spoon-feeds you not the literal sounds in your ears.

New theory, HN is a honey pot for dumb people that Y Combinator studies how to make money from.

Previous theory it was a Alzheimer's style "Fake bus stop" used to round up imposter hackers and keep them contained while the real Hackers did stuff.

“Can you generate me some records that indicate we didn’t copy…” /s
These white swans prove there are no black swans! \s
I am assuming they deliberately wanted the voice to sound like Her (the movie) for marketing so copied the voice then tried to get Johansson's permission once the legal department raised some objections. They went through with it anyway when they did not get permission. Altman has shown time again he will ignore all the rules and laws if they hamper his goals. This what I think happened I am not saying it did and I could be wrong
Everyone eagerly citing the article, google: “who owns Washington Post”
Maybe we should wait.

Everything OpenAI and Altman related seems to have multiple layers like an onion.

If we wait long enough we might get documents which show they uses Scarlett Johansson's voice but hired an actress to claim it's hers.

One month later it might be the opposite again.

In times of AI fakes real evidence is hard to find.

I don’t think OpenAI has a chance to win this in open court.

They are very likely to settle out of court. Investors get a bit anxious with pending litigation.

But I honestly hope Johansson does not. She certainly has the runway to take it all the way. Make them look like fools in open court. Show the people their real colors.

Hollywood elites know they are cooked. It’s only a matter of time before corporations like OpenAI and Microsoft make celebrities and actors as valuable and useful as the next rank and file employee.

I personally want an AI Taylor Swift that can sing to me whatever song I want, and I would like it to be cheap and owned by a corporation.

"She worked closely with a film director hired by OpenAI to help develop the technology’s personality."

So you are trying to tell me there was zero chance that this film director was not aware of the movie "Her" and may have been influenced by it?

Why doesn't the voice sound like the Enterprise's computer from TNG? I don't mean sound, I mean cadence, more professional and not like a sexline operator.

Scarlett Johansson will forever be associated with this voice named, "Sky", the official voice of "Skynet" that will wipe us all off the face of the earth! In comparison, the unfolding of "her" the movie would be like a walk in the park compared to armies of Terminators.

It sounds too close to Scarlett for me to believe this was not the goal whether they hired somebody else or not, and if they try and prove beyond a doubt no audio post processing was done. Just listen to famous musicians doing acoustic or no processing versions of their songs to see how much you can craft a voice or sound.


  1. A movie that features an AI voice of a female voiced by Scarlett Johansson.

  2. A real-life AI company, OpenAI, is trying to put a distinct voice to their AI product vs. a canned voice.

  3. Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, contacting SJ to ask her to be the AI voice.

  4. SJ refuses.

  5. CEO of OpenAI tweets "her" the title of the movie in #1 above.
Audio processing with DSP methods and current audio engineering craft or training AI to make it sound like SJ would be the thing to prove. Get raw audio of actress and finished sound and compare how they steered it to the final product and compare a spectrograph of SJ if you can get the same words.

My common sense and the above facts says OpenAI did whatever they did to get close enough to SJ's voice. SA pursued it a few times, no? It definitely sounds like her enough to me.