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TIKTOK LAWSUIT
Bev Standing Settles Lawsuit With TikTok:
'Industry Needed This Education' About TTS
October 8, 2022

(VOXtra) - Popular voice actor Bev Standing and TikTok have settled a lawsuit brought by Standing earlier this year in which she cited the social media giant for unauthorized use of her voice in its TTS (text-to-speech) feature.

Standing and her attorney Robert J. Sciglimpaglia say the agreement prevents them from discussing details of the settlement.

"All I can say is that Bev was the voice of TikTok's text-to-speech, and that the parties have reached an amicable resolution," Sciglimpaglia says.

Earlier this year, Standing discovered TikTok's online use of her voice, despite not having recorded a project for TikTok.

In 2018, Standing had performed text-to-speech voice work for the Institute of Acoustics, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, involving Chinese translations. It's the only TTS job she's performed - and Standing's voice from that job matched the characteristics heard on her TikTok voices.

The Institute denied giving the files to TikTok.

Yet Sciglimpaglia confirms that Standing "was indeed the text-to-speech voice of TikTok."

On May 5, Sciglimpaglia filed a 14-page civil action lawsuit against ByteDance E-Commerce Inc., d/b/a TikTok in the US. District Court, Southern District of New York on Standing's behalf, seeking to stop use of Standing's voice on TikTok, the disposal of her voice files, and damages "in an amount to be determined at trial." (see earlier article).

The suit brought widespread support from voice actors, triggering a GoFundMe campaign for legal expenses and articles and social media discussions on the potential for voices recorded for AI (artificial intelligence) and text-to-speech projects to later wind up in other uses.

'INDUSTRY NEEDED THIS'

"I'm under an NDA," Standing says, "but can say that (the lawsuit) was definitely worth it.

"Contracts need to be in place (for this type of work), and hiring a lawyer to check those - or having an informed agent - is huge," she notes.

And about Standing's voice on TikTok?

"As far as using my voice in the future, that would have to be answered by TikTok," she says.

According a report on The Verge:
"About two weeks after the lawsuit was filed, TikTok's text-to-speech voice changed. Instead of Standing's odd monotone recording, it changed to a voice that's relentlessly upbeat. One assumes TikTok checked the copyright on it."

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Comments (6)
Kate McClanaghan
10/12/2021 at 12:22 PM
This is LITERALLY why we have talent agents! I'm happy to hear Rob was able to secure a monetary exchange for using Bev's work, unbeknownst to her. I'm guessing they settled for a buyout.

This spotlights why booking all the work "on our own" is far more precarious today than ever before, especially on the global stage. Most talent are out of their depth when it comes to determining their true value, the potential further use of "your recorded likeness," and their terms of agreement.

I'm pleasantly surprised they got any place in seeing progress on this subject, frankly. Especially given the platform. These folks aren't known for playing fair.

As for The Verge quote: you can't COPYRIGHT an audio file! Full stop.

I agree with Mike Madden's comment below. He's right. It may not be what any hopeful voice talent wants to hear, but it is the reality of the work we do.

Bev's NDA is a muzzle and nothing more, that honestly serves no one, unfortunately. The threat of nefarious global sources intending to get something for nothing from budding/struggling freelance voice talent will continue unless talent work smarter from the start.
Mike Coon
10/8/2021 at 3:03 PM
Congratulations Bev!!
Good for you!
-Mike
Mike Madden
10/8/2021 at 1:10 PM
Lots of vagueness and too much assumption in this article. Especially that quote from the Verge regarding copyright. Highly assumptive.

Lacking settlement details or the contract (which they never revealed publicly) taking Ms. Standing's or her lawyer's word for things is a slippery slope. Indeed, it seems Ms. Standing got just one of the things she was asking for in her lawsuit and it likely wasn't very much money.

With no other details, we should doubt Ms. Standing got anything more than reimbursed legal fees and a small "license fee" - enabling Tik-Tok to use her voice going forward if they choose, which they won't as we know they already have recast and now have a stable of bought out actors.

When there's no stated admission of guilt, no promise not to do what they are alleged to have done -or any statement at all- from the company, plus an 'NDA' that supposedly limits details from being released, usually indicates the company won, not the individual.
Jinny Martin
10/8/2021 at 10:54 AM
Great news Bev,
Congratulations to you and the team!
Katelyn Dawn
10/8/2021 at 9:05 AM
Congratulations, Bev!! That is so wonderful to hear that they settled with you. Thanks for bringing this issue to the forefront and for covering this so well VoiceOverXtra!
Tracy Elman
10/8/2021 at 2:25 AM
Bev, Rob, John, I am glad you pursued and published this. Itís terrible that they did this to you, Bev. I could see the possibility of misuse in general auditions, too. What they did was on a large scale but like everything else, we canít live in fear. I hope that they pay you well for this. Continue on. Miss you. -Tracy
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