AI tools are becoming increasingly advanced, and what once seemed impossible is slowly becoming possible. ElevenLabs announced this week that its Reader: AI Audio app will be able to recreate the voices of deceased actors for narration of audiobooks and other texts.

Among the deceased celebrities on the list are Judy Garland, a very famous musical actress from the golden age of Hollywood, James Dean, well known for his role in Rebel Without a Cause, and Burt Reynolds, a star from the 70s.

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Reader: AI Audio promises to respect the legacy of the stars

The new feature will be present in the recently launched Reader: AI Audio app, which is focused on transforming articles, PDFs, ePubs, newsletters, e-books or any other text into voice narrations. The idea is that the person can listen instead of reading these materials.

“We deeply respect the legacy of these stars and are honored to have their voices as part of our platform.”revealed Dustin Blank, head of partnerships at ElevenLabs. “Adding these voices to our growing roster of narrators marks a huge step forward in our mission to make content accessible in any language and voice.”

To ensure the ethical and legal use of these celebrities’ voices, ElevenLabs made it clear that it has reached agreements with the actors’ estates. Details of the compensation have not been disclosed.

This is an important part of the process, as the rapid advancement of AI technology, especially in its ability to create images, text and sound, raises important questions about its application in the creative industries. The ability to create digital versions of someone’s voice saying something they never said has raised concerns about authenticity and copyright.

Earlier this year, ElevenLabs was embroiled in controversy when its tool was used to create a fake automated call from President Joe Biden urging people not to vote in the New Hampshire presidential primary. The incident highlighted the potential abuses of AI technology and the need for regulation.

Copyright and partnerships

David Gunkel, a professor in the communications department at Northern Illinois University, explains that while a person cannot copyright their own voice, it is possible to copyright a recording.

“ElevenLabs’ new partnerships are all within the scope of the law”he said. “An estate will make a considerable amount of money from licensing and agreements, similar to a company negotiating a copyright deal to use a popular song in an advertisement.”

Media companies are increasingly exploring the use of AI for voiceovers. NBC recently announced that it will bring an AI version of famed sportscaster Al Michaels back to this summer’s Olympics for daily recaps on its Peacock streaming platform. An NBC spokesperson confirmed that Michaels is being compensated for his participation.

However, public reception to AI versions of familiar voices is still uncertain. “We don’t yet know what the market is for these types of narrations, but we can already see that audiobooks read by recognizable voices and celebrities are a big hit”these Gunkel. “If there’s a way to have a celebrity narrate a variety of content without having to do it in person, that could open up the market even further.”

Source: CNN


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