Who owns your voice? Linguistic and legal perspectives on the relationship between vocal distinctiveness and the rights of the individual speaker
Keywords:Voice, intellectual property, copyright, fraud, speech technology
Only in very recent times has the concept of ‘ownership’ of a human voice begun to demand proper consideration in terms of its legal implications. The current lack of clarity with respect to the rights afforded to individuals and organisations in this area is something that must be addressed as a matter of some urgency, given that voice samples are now collected on an unprecedented scale, with or without the knowledge or consent of the person(s) who produced the captured speech. In this article we explore the issue of voice ownership from a variety of perspectives, starting with an attempt to define what the voice actually is, and then considering how representations of a talker’s voice at greater or lesser levels of concreteness (or ‘tangibility’) can be misappropriated and misused in unethical or unlawful ways.
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