- A professional voice actor is suing TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, The Telegraph reported.
- Beverly Standing said that her voice was used without permission for a text-to-speech feature.
- Standing told Insider that some content associated with the feature goes against her personal brand.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A professional voice actor is suing ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, in a United States court, claiming that her voice was used for the app’s text-to-speech feature without her permission.
The extremely popular in-app function launched in late 2020 and allows users to automatically convert typed text into speech that narrates their videos. TikTokers use text-to-speech for various video formats, and these voices vary by region.
Beverly Standing, a voice actor based in Ontario, Canada, told Insider in an interview that she recognized her own voice in TikTok’s North American text-to-speech feature.
@carson_day5 #stitch with @abrameng We tried p.2 #sirpounce #fyp #foryou #catsoftiktok #SayQuayNotKway #LoveMeMode #RefundGlowUp #xyzcba #foryoupage
The lawsuit, filed the United States District Court, Southern District of New York on May 6, claims damages for “the emotional distress of having her likeness exploited without consent; loss of the ability to control the dissemination of her likeness; and loss of the ability to control the association of her likeness.”
Standing told Insider that she recognized herself as the voice of the text-to-speech function towards the end of last year, when friends and family began to send her TikTok videos. After joining the app and exploring the function herself, she told Insider she could identify which voice-acting job the audio was from based on its tonality and pitch.
The lawsuit claims that Standing was hired by an “Institute of Acoustics” to “perform voice work purportedly for Chinese translations,” claiming that the institute is a company based out of Scotland. It states that “upon information and belief, a company from China contracted with the Institute of Acoustics.”
The case filing claims that Standing’s work was then used without her permission by TikTok.
Standing said she was not aware that the audio she recorded would be used for any purpose other than translation and that it was not a part of her agreement for the job.
“As far as I’m concerned, TikTok is not my client, and so how they got this audio is unknown,” Standing told Insider.
Standing told Insider that she had not received any personal acknowledgment from TikTok. Robert Sciglimpaglia, her lawyer, told BBC News that neither TikTok nor parent company ByteDance had responded to the legal filing as of Monday.
On Wednesday, the court issued a summons to Bytedance, ordering the company to respond to the complaint within 60 days, according to court documents obtained by Insider.
Standing has previously used her voice in commercial work for companies including Kraft, Revlon, Clarins, Olay, and others, according to her website. Standing said she’s concerned that she may not be hired by future clients looking for her to be the voice of their brand because her voice is now already “branded,” in a sense. She also told Insider that the use of her voice in some content on TikTok goes against her brand, including things that she “would never say in public” or private.
“The whole point of me going this public… it’s not about the money overall,” she told Insider. “By going public I’m hoping I’m sharing with the end-users, the clients, the people that are doing the other end of it, realizing that this is my livelihood, and I’m behind this mic every single day working, training, teaching. You can’t just take it.”
Ultimately, Standing said that she loves her work and doesn’t plan to retire any time soon, but appreciates the support from friends and family, many of whom are rallying on Facebook behind the hashtag #StandWithBev.
TikTok did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, but a spokesperson told The Telegraph that it does not comment on ongoing litigation.