(this aricle is an automatic translation of the original story, written in Italian)
Remie Michelle Clarke is an Irish voice actor. She usually charges up to $2,000 for 30 seconds of her voice. But today for only $27 you can use her "cloned voice" without her receiving anything. And this is thanks to Artificial Intelligence. "It all started with a strange phone call from a friend who asked me: 'How did you manage to offer yourself as a virtual voice actress on revoicer.com? Do they pay well?" I didn't understand what he was talking about, I had never heard of revoicer.com: it is a start-up company that offers hundreds of synthesised voices for a fee to recite any kind of advertisements or audio books. Looking through the voices on offer, I came across mine,' she says in an interview with the Italian La Repubblica (in Italian).
In the interview with Giuliano Aluffi, Clarke recounts that her voice was introduced to her as Olivia. 'Clicking on the audio sample I had an alienating experience: hearing my voice saying sentences that I had never actually spoken'. The voice said to her: "Hello, my name is Olivia. I have a soft, caressing voice. I can record audio books, educational videos and do all kinds of dubbing". According to the voice actress, 'all it takes is an audio file of a few minutes, because the A.I. programmes can quickly find the most characteristic waveforms of someone's speech and use that information to speak "in the manner of" any person, faithfully, even if they end up being lifeless voices'.
The contract with Microsoft
Regarding the legality of the procedure, Clarke reveals that three years ago she had dubbed Bing's voice for Microsoft: 'In the contract it was mentioned that third parties could access my voice samples. But the technology at the time did not make it possible to imagine that it would one day be possible to clone my voice. The problem is that technology has leapt ahead and jurisprudence has lagged behind'. And for all that, there is no legal protection: 'At the moment, the voice is still not recognised as an asset that can be defended by copyright. Instead, it would be important also because, apart from exceptions of really famous dubbers, the world of 'voice over' is made up of people who do not sail in gold'.