The reality of voice data processing in the audiovisual industry

Voice database GDPR-safe

In response to the thriving online industry of personal data collection and monetisation, Europe elaborated data protection legislation and adopted the GDPR to protect the privacy of its citizens and residence, and GDPR compliance has been mandatory since May 25, 2018.

Many organisations incorrectly interpreted GDPR as only applying to GAFA, multinational companies, or entreprises with a certain level of turnover, and primarily concerning their marketing activities.

Widespread non-compliance fines and sanctions have shown that GDPR applies to companies of all sizes, and to all aspects of their personal data processing if they are handling EU personal data, have client bases in the EU, and/or operate in the EU. 

GDPR voice-data audiovisual industry

The audiovisual industry isn’t immune to the legal obligations GDPR entails. Indeed, it’s a sector where large volumes of voice-data circulate without voice-data protection policies in place.

Voice-data is subject to the same GDPR obligations as any other personal data. Once an organisation decides to process voice-data, they must respect related data processing regulations. Historically, voice samples have simply been added to casting databases and stored until needed for a specific project. Quite often, actors are unaware companies are processing their voice-data. 

Voice samples are used as CVs in the dubbing and voiceover sector and shared between colleagues and companies all of the time. While big production companies may centralise their casting databases and apply voice-data compliance policies, the majority of the audiovisual industry has not yet changed their habits and continue to store and process the data as they always have. 

Not only does this imply hours, days, and weeks of time wasted locating, filtering and sharing samples for castings, but more importantly, the personal voice data is not being processed or secured in compliance with GDPR.

Voice-data circulation:

Castings usually run like this:


Final Clients:

Large production companies or brands contract production companies all over the world to produce localised dubbings of their TV series, films, ads, audiobooks, video games, documentaries, etc.

These production companies then contract a voice director to manage the casting.  

Voice Directors:

  • Run studio castings with shortlisted voice actors OR search their private voice sample base for previously recorded voice samples from other projects that represent similar roles to the ones they’re casting on their current project.

Production Company:

  • Voice directors then send a proposition of 3 actors (average), for each role to the production company that includes 2-3 voice samples for each actor/role; first and last name of each actor; and additional contact information (telephone, address, email…).

Final Client:

  • Production companies then send these elements to final clients all over the world to get their preferences and validation for actors and roles. Sometimes producers hide the names of actors, but they send voice samples every time.

As voice directors and localised production companies are generally sub-contracted, voice-data GDPR compliance is not managed or monitored by a centralised source and final clients are not guaranteed that the casting process  has been 100% GDPR compliant.

The lack of transparency and structure puts all project contributors at risk of sanctions and fines as high as €20M or 4% of their global revenues.

Disclaimer: All data and information provided in this blog post are for informational purposes only. Mediartis makes no representation as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or validity of the information contained in this document. We recommend that you consult a lawyer for any legal advice regarding the respect of data protection

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