TikTok Replaces Text-to-Speech Voice Weeks After a Voice Actor’s Lawsuit
TikTok has a new female voice handling the text-to-voice feature in the social media app. The shift comes just a few weeks after voice actor Beverly Standing filed a lawsuit against TikTok parent company ByteDance E-Commerce alleging it was using her voice for the feature without permission. TikTok hasn’t said anything about the change, but the timing is very suggestive.
Now, when a TikTok user makes a video and adds text to the screen, the default woman’s voice reading the text is distinctly different. That doesn’t seem to affect older recordings using what may be Standing’s voice, however. Standing explained in her lawsuit that she believed the synthetic voice used since TikTok introduced the text-to-speech feature last year is her. The recording used to synthesize the speech supposedly came from a job several years ago for the Institute of Acoustics for use in Chinese translations. Those files may have been sold to TikTok for developing the tet-to-speech feature, despite that not being allowed without permission in Standing’s contract.
Beyond the monetary issue is one of professional reputation. Standing’s suit expressed concern that her voice could be made to say any number of things she would not approve of. The widespread and unpaid use of her voice on TikTok might also taint future jobs, as it would be only associated with the social media platform, and limit her ability to land voice jobs in the future. The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District Court of New York and asks the court to force TikTok to remove her voice from the platform and delete the file it came from. She also requested $150,000 in damages for every copyright infringement. The change in voice artist may be part of an agreement between TikTok and Standing or simply the company trying to stay on top of the legal complications, but it doesn’t yet satisfy all of Standing’s legal demands as the older voice is still extant in videos made before this week.