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Shelly Palmer - Scarlett Johansson goes after OpenAI

Ultimately, the outcome of this case may set precedent for the relatively new field of deepfakes and cloning.

Greetings from Orlando. I'm here to do a keynote and lead some AI training workshops at Marriott's Engineering and Facilities Conference, and I'm hoping to stop by the ANA Marketing Technology for Marketers Conference as well.

In the news: Scarlett Johansson has accused OpenAI of stealing her voice for GPT-4o. Johansson claims that OpenAI's "Sky" voice is "eerily similar" to her own and that she was approached by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman to voice the system, but declined.

Unsurprisingly, OpenAI has denied the allegations, stating that the "Sky" voice belongs to a different professional actress. However, the company has agreed to pause the use of the "Sky" voice while it addresses questions about how it selects its AI voices.

Unsatisfied with OpenAI's response, Johansson has hired legal counsel to investigate the matter and has written two letters to Altman and OpenAI requesting details on how the "Sky" voice was created.

This case will be interesting to watch. In a traditional copyright case, if you can prove intent, you almost always win. This case may be different.

Did OpenAI clone ScarJo's voice? Was the voice they created simply inspired by her character in the movie "Her?" Is it just a lilting female voice that happens to be reminiscent of ScarJo's? Does the fact that Sam Altman contacted ScarJo and offered her the gig prove intent? If so, does the work product trade on ScarJo's NIL rights or other rights? Do copyright laws even apply here?

Ultimately, the outcome of this case may set precedent for the relatively new field of deepfakes and cloning.

As always your thoughts and comments are both welcome and encouraged. Just reply to this email. -s

P.S. Yesterday's newsletter was a warning to Slack users about the company's AI training policy. Shortly after it was posted, a Slack PR representative contacted me to clarify their position. I've updated yesterday's blog post to include Slack's statements.

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Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit