Gary Furlong, a Texas-based audiobook narrator, had worried for a while that synthetic voices created by algorithms could steal work from artists like himself. Early this month, he felt his worst fears had been realized.
Furlong was among the narrators and authors who became outraged after learning of a clause in contracts between authors and leading audiobook distributor Findaway Voices, which gave Apple the right to "use audiobooks files for machine learning training and models." Findaway was acquired by Spotify last June.
Some authors and narrators say they were not clearly informed about the clause and feared it may have allowed their work or voices to contribute to Apple's development of synthetic voices for audiobooks. Apple launched its first books narrated by algorithms last month. "It was very disheartening," says Furlong, who has narrated over 300 audiobooks and is one of more than a dozen narrators and authors who told WIRED of their concerns with Findaway's agreement. "It feels like a violation to have our voices being used to train something for which the purpose is to take our place," says Andy Garcia-Ruse, a narrator from Kansas City.
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