SAG-AFTRA just struck a deal with Replica Studios, the giants behind voice AI tech. This innovative pact about using AI voices in video games was unveiled by SAG-AFTRA on January 9th during a CES event.

Artificial intelligence has been stealing the spotlight, and for most performers, the best defense against unauthorized digital replicas of their voices, likeness, and/or performance is a SAG-AFTRA contract. We’re thrilled to collaborate with Replica Studios because it’s a prime example of AI done right.

President Fran Drescher. Source: SAG-AFTRA.

A Few Words About SAG-AFTRA

SAG-AFTRA, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, is a union representing around 160,000 talents worldwide. Formed in 2012, their mission is all about safeguarding their members’ rights and work conditions. They do it by signing contracts with employers, providing benefits to their peeps, and championing policies that give media pros a boost. This union covers a vast range of industries, from TV and movies to radio, theater, commercials, industrial films, and even video games.

The Deal’s Details

This agreement lets Replica create and license digital replicas of SAG-AFTRA-protected participants under “fair and ethical” terms. These licensed voices can rock the mic in AAA-class video games and “other interactive media projects” from the early production stages to the final drop.

Alongside the “bare minimum terms,” this deal hands performers the power to consent and negotiate with the AI company, plus the right to put their foot down on “prolonged use” of their voice in any “new projects.”

Discontent Among the Acting Community

SAG-AFTRA’s National Executive Director and head negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, believes the union hit all the high notes in their negotiations with Replica:

With this agreement, we’ve achieved full conscious consent and fair compensation when it comes to utilizing our participants’ voices and performances.

However, the actor community and some SAG-AFTRA members aren’t exactly throwing confetti over this announced deal.

The biggest complaint against the deal boils down to actors preferring to officially act rather than just handing out voice samples. Others highlight the lack of specifics in the SAG-AFTRA press release or any voting process during the union’s deal confirmation.

Similar reactions stirred up when another such deal was struck by SAG-AFTRA back in November 2023. Back then, the organization entered into a deal on concerning artificial intelligence with major movie studios. The union approved guiding principles for creating, using, and altering “digital replicas” of artists. The deal involved compensation for creating and utilizing their AI replicas, plus their use in any additional projects or other environments. Despite getting an 86% thumbs-up from SAG-AFTRA, this agreement also stirred mixed feelings within the acting community.


It’s a bit of a head-scratcher when the regular folks aren’t in the loop about who did the voting. Smells fishy, doesn’t it, SAG-AFTRA? But, according to the CEO of Replica Studios, everything seems pretty transparent:

Our voice actor agreements ensure that game developers using our platform are only accessing licensed talent who have given permission for their voice to be used as a training data set, as opposed to the wild west of AI platforms using unethical data-scraping methods to replicate and synthesize voices without permission.

Read More on AI from Hodl:

We can conclude that the artists expressing dissatisfaction simply didn’t understand the ins and outs of the agreement, or maybe they haven’t been offered a collaboration yet and are just trying to grab attention. Hey, in promotion, all’s fair game, right?

Overall, this contract marks a significant step toward the ethical use of AI voices in creative game projects by developers, laying the groundwork for fair and just employment for voice actors as they explore new income avenues provided by AI.

Disclaimer: All materials on this site are for informational purposes only. None of the material should be interpreted as investment advice. Please note that despite the nature of much of the material created and hosted on this website, HODL FM is not a financial reference resource and the opinions of authors and other contributors are their own and should not be taken as financial advice. If you require advice of this sort, HODL FM strongly recommends contacting a qualified industry professional.