The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG AFTRA) has announced a new deal which it claims will protect actors from unauthorized AI replications of their voices.
However, the deal, which has been made with AI firm Replica Studios, has divided video game actors as the controversial topic of AI replication in the world of performance comes to a head.
According to SAG AFTRA, the deal will “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.”
The deal reportedly includes minimum terms and the requirement for performers’ consent to use their voice for AI.
However, several prominent video game voice actors were quick to respond on X, specifically to a portion of the statement which claims the deal was approved by “affected members of the union’s voiceover performer community.”
Starfield, Deus Ex, and Assassin’s Creed actor Elias Toufexis echoed these concerns, writing: “I would humbly consider myself one of the top voice actors working in games. No one asked me about this. No one reached out for my opinion.”
Xander Mobus, best known for his role as the voice of the announcer in Super Smash Bros, wrote, “Fucking…who?! Did any of y’all approve this? I didn’t get told we were voting on this. SAG leadership, please, I’m begging you, stop showing your ass and do something to keep us working. Ya know? Your job? You ain’t licensors, you are a labor union! The hell y’all doing!?”
In a statement to IGN, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator for SAG-AFTRA, said, “Our AI deal with Replica Studios is an important step in ensuring the ethical application of these technologies in a way that ensures the use of members’ voices occurs only with informed consent and fair compensation.
“This is a deal that covers one company, with regard to the development of video games. This deal does not impact our IMA negotiations. Rather, it sets a model for our industry, building on the terms approved by 80% of our members just a month ago, and we hope to see more companies adopting agreements like this one.”
In November, SAG-AFTRA approved a strike order, following a vote of 98.32% from union members. The strike never transpired, but this deal could lay the foundation for more action from the US’s voice-acting labour union.