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Hollywood Is Afraid As Scarlett Johansson's OpenAI Conflict Resurfaces


Hollywood Is Afraid As Scarlett Johansson's OpenAI Conflict Resurfaces
Hollywood officials says that OpenAI's apparent tribute to the film "Her," which features Scarlett Johansson's voice, is causing a reaction against artificial intelligence.
Even as Hollywood studios test new tools and consider partnerships with OpenAI, Johansson's accusations that the ChatGPT-maker copied her performance in the Spike Jonze-directed feature film, after failing to reach an agreement, reignited the creative class's fear about the existential threat posed by AI.
“This seemed to strike a real chord,” said one industry executive. “It kind of puts a human face on it … There’s a well-known tech company that did something to a person we know.”
In February, OpenAI astonished everyone by producing movies that resembled feature films using their text-to-video tool, Sora. According to agents and industry experts, the business has since been met many times by Hollywood executives and agencies to discuss possible creative partnerships and applications of the technology.
According to people with direct knowledge who spoke to the media, Johansson's criticism of OpenAI for using a seductive voice that she described as "eerily similar" to her performance in the company's public demonstrations of the newest version of ChatGPT is upsetting some entertainment executives amid discussions to collaborate more closely on projects.
“It sure doesn't set up a respectful collaboration between content creators and tech giants,” said one studio executive, calling OpenAI’s actions “hubris.”
"It was never intended to resemble Scarlett Johansson's voice," stated OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in a statement on Monday. Before contacting Ms. Johansson, we cast the voice actor for Sky."
Following the dispute, the company, whose biggest investor is Microsoft, did not respond to requests for comment regarding its relationship with Hollywood.
Agents and executives who spoke with Reuters under the condition of anonymity expressed their concerns for weeks, even before the most recent conflict, regarding OpenAI's models appearing to have been trained on copyrighted works, which the tech company considered a fair use because they are freely accessible online.
Some professional directors and filmmakers view it as a significant barrier, since they could be hesitant to employ a tool that was developed without permission on the work of others.
However, Sora is seen by IT experts in the entertainment sector as a potentially useful tool to enhance the production of films and television shows. They anticipate using the technology in the near future to quicken the pace of digital effects.
For its Tubi streaming service, Fox already employs OpenAI's ChatGPT to suggest new TV series and films to users.
Though OpenAI has said that it wants to preserve copyrights, preventing the creation of videos using well-known characters like Superman or well-known celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, questions still linger about how it would protect lesser-known artists.
The dispute between Johansson and OpenAI creates a new front in the war between the leader in AI and the content sector. According to John Yanchunis, a partner at the legal firm Morgan & Morgan, Johansson has grounds to claim that OpenAI infringed her right to publicity, which grants an individual the ability to manage the commercial use of his or her name, image, or appearance.
Legal analysts cite singer Bette Midler's use of California law as a precedent-setting case to regain her own voice. After turning down an invitation to sing the song live, she successfully sued Ford's advertising firm, Young & Rubicam, for employing a former backing vocalist to mimic her performance of "Do You Want to Dance?" in a vehicle advertisement.
The Supreme Court heard the case in 1987 and maintained the plaintiff's right to publicity. In 1988, Tom Waits prevailed in a comparable lawsuit against Frito-Lay for an advertisement that featured a performance that mimicked Waits' gritty vocal style.
According to Mark Lemley, director of the Stanford Programme in Law, Science, and Technology, "people were likely to assume that the artists were the ones singing and had endorsed the products in both of those cases because the sound-alikes were performing songs that the singers had made famous."
Though the Johansson case is less clear-cut than the other ones, Lemley noted that there is "a pretty strong case for Johansson" because of the attempt to mimic the actress's voice from "Her," Altman's persistent attempts to employ her, and a tweet he made referencing the movie.
General counsel for SAG-AFTRA performers union, which played a key role in creating the publicity right in California and other states, Jeffrey Bennett has been advocating for a federal right to voice and likeness that would be akin to the federal protections afforded to copyrights.
“We're thrilled that there's now this huge dialogue about it,” Bennett said. “We've been trying to use the bullhorn and shout about it for quite awhile now … We've been talking about the proliferation of ‘deep fakes' and now it's going to start impacting everybody. Now, it really is a conversation. There must be a federal solution.”