Voice actors vs AI: Voice data compliance can help bridge the gap

The rapid progression of synthetic voice technologies is sending shockwaves throughout the dubbing and voiceover industry. 

Trade associations and unions are rapidly regrouping across the globe to try to ensure that development and usage of voice AI technologies does not compromise the rights of actors through strong lobbying and contractual negotiation efforts. The United Voice Artists (UVA), a newly formed coalition of leading EU guilds, trade associations, and unions from France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Poland, Switzerland, USA, Turkey and Latin America (see full list at the bottom of this article), published their own manifesto yesterday that calls for the support of European politicians and legislators for more specific voice-centric legislation.

This new and already far reaching technological era makes data privacy compliance and data protection transparency an urgent subject for voice actors and every organization handling their Personally Identifiable Information (PII) – especially their voice recordings. 

Voice is biometric personal data and fiercely protected by the GDPR and most global data protection legislations.

Voice data protection begins with clear visibility of who is collecting, processing and sharing actors’ voice recordings. Today, actors’ voice data circulates freely, unsecured and untracked. Most actors are unaware of which of their voice recordings are being stored, processed, shared, and even by whom.

Voice collection, processing and sharing in dubbing & voiceover projects

Casting workflows are particularly high risk for voice data compliance. During the casting process, voice recordings and talent profiles are shared between the entire supply chain in order to agree on the right talents and get a project validated. 

This step of production includes the physical sharing of voice data between voice directors, project managers, dubbing and production companies and final clients. In parallel, it is often shared with multiple internal services: audio, IT, HR, marketing, sales, etc. 

Dangers of current voice data sharing practices

The problem with physical file sharing of voice recordings is that the data flows are often not monitored or tracked. Once recordings are shared, organizations have no visibility or control of how the receiver is processing and securing the data. When projects are voiced in several languages, the number of organizations involved multiplies, and ensuring data compliance becomes complex, if not impossible, with current industry workflows.

These voice recordings represent the best sound and artistic quality of the actors’ performances, making these media ideal for use in research, development, and training of voice technologies.

If even one of the stakeholders uses an actors’ PII in a different way than intended (casting), or does not secure the data, this puts the actor at risk as well as every company involved in the project as GDPR holds all project stakeholders responsible for each other’s compliance and can issue penalties of up to €20M or 4% of a company’s global revenue. 

Current voice privacy compliance in dubbing & voiceover operations

While the Media & Entertainment industry has widely adopted security standards such as TPN, ISO, NIST and SOC2, industry-wide privacy best practices are nonexistent and voice data collection, processing and sharing policies between vendors and content owners remains critically high risk in terms of privacy compliance. 

Several of the leading industry trade associations are currently working on defining and establishing privacy best practices that will help companies with dubbing & voiceover operations ensure that their workflows involving voice data are compliant. In parallel, these practices will provide content owners with supplier privacy compliance controls that allow them to select their partners responsibly.

Until industry wide privacy best practices are adopted and implemented, voice actors need to be ultra-vigilant about securing and tracking their voice data and holding companies accountable for their data protection compliance. 

Concretely – what can voice actors do TODAY to secure their voice data?

When an actor’s voice is protected by the GDPR, every organization, no matter where they are located in the world, is legally bound to respect the actors’ GDPR rights.

Voice data compliance is win-win for the entire industry

Transparency of data collection and processing practices is organic when companies are respecting their voice data privacy obligations. Beyond legal obligations, ethical behavior is crucial for building stronger and sustainable relationships between artists, service providers and content owners. 

Respecting artists’ rights and their voice media also protects all companies, agents, unions and organizations who work with the talents. Until now, the industry has not prioritized voice data compliance, but the brutal arrival of voice technologies has magnified the urgency to adapt and secure current industry practices, both to respect and reassure our talents, and also to protect the entire professional ecosystem from new risks and legal hazards.

About Mediartis

Mediartis is a voice-centric privacy solution that is designed specifically to protect the entire dubbing & voiceover ecosystem with tailor-made tools that support industry needs and workflows.

Accounts are managed by studios, agents and unions who manage their proprietary casting databases and projects in private environments with integrated voice data privacy tools. Mediartis ensures that the voice data being processed and used for casting purposes has been verified and approved by voice actors and permits service providers to demonstrate their voice data compliance to their clients.

Our solution simplifies and ensures the data privacy compliance of actor PII, casting workflows and projects. We provide the industry’s first tools to enable organizations to verify the compliance of their service providers and therefore choose their partners responsibly.

How we can help

  • Automation of initial and ongoing resource privacy compliance
  • Digital privacy management tools
  • Voice casting compliance safeguards
  • Secure voice actor access to personal data
  • Vendor project compliance visibility
  • Multi-vendor project compliance controls
  • Reporting for vendor privacy assessments
  • Interactive castings delivered via streamed access – no physical data sharing 
  • “Need to access” user permissions that secure personal data 
  • Automated non-compliant personal data deletion
  • Voice data encryption (import / at rest / network circulation)
  • Technology available via API for Enterprise Integrations

Click here for a detailed overview of Mediartis’ architecture

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