Voice Actor Sues TikTok Over Unlawful Use of Their Voice

TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the world, with a whopping 🤯 689 million active users worldwide. That statistic doesn’t include China, where 600 million people reportedly use a separate version of the app daily. 

If you’re one of TikTok’s 1.3 billion active users, then you’ve probably used or seen the text-to-speech feature that reads the text of videos aloud. It’s a recognizable 🧐 part of the service that hit app stores in January this year.

Text-to-speech was supposed to be a great accessibility feature—and it is—but TikTok allegedly used the voice of Beverly Standing for the North American version of the app without her 👀 permission. Standing is now suing TikTok, claiming TikTok essentially stole her voice. Here’s the scoop. 

Taking Words Out of Standing’s Mouth 

Beverly Standing filed a complaint in the Southern District of New York against TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, claiming it had unlawfully imitated the likeness of her voice. 

According to the complaint, the Institute of Acoustics, a company based in Scotland called, hired Standing to record phrases for Chinese translations. Unbeknownst to Standing, ByteDance purportedly obtained the recordings and used them for TikTok’s text-to-speech feature. She never 🙅‍♀️ gave permission for a third party to use her recordings. Furthermore, she was never compensated for the use of her voice. 

The suit argues that TikTok users could make Standing’s voice say inappropriate things on the platform, potentially damage her brand. Some of the videos depicting her voice reportedly include “foul and offensive language,” 🤬 the complaint claims. She is seeking damages for potential defamation and wants TikTok to permanently stop using her voice, among other stipulations.

TikTok’s Many Legal Woes

By now, TikTok is no stranger to lawsuits. In just the past year, it has been accused of illegally harvesting children’s 👶 data in both the U.S. and the UK. ByteDance settled the U.S. case in March 2021. In the end, it agreed to pay a $92 million settlement to make it go away. 

The UK case is more recent. It specifically calls out TikTok’s collection of kids’ data, which may be in breach of English and EU laws. That one is still in court.

TikTok responded to the allegations in the UK case by stating: “Privacy and safety are top priorities for TikTok and we have robust policies, processes, and technologies in place to help protect all users, and our teenage users in particular. We believe the claims lack merit and intend to vigorously defend the action.” 

According to TikTok’s privacy policy, the app collects data “you share with us from third-party social network providers, and technical and behavioral information about your use of the platform. We also collect information contained in the messages you send through our platform and information from your phone, if you grant us access to your mobile device.” 

Is TikTok More Controversial Than Other Apps?

All of the above sounds like standard fare for a social media app. However, there have been numerous reports claiming TikTok is unsafe because of where it supposedly sends 📨 user data. In fact, several organizations and companies—including Amazon, Wells Fargo, and even the U.S. military—require staffers to delete the app from their phones. India passed a blanket ban, and the U.S. almost did the same under Trump. 

Whether or not you should delete the app is 🤔 debatable. This is because your risk as an individual is about the same as with any other social media apps you use. Plus, it’s no secret that every major social media network collects enormous amounts of user data.

The problem with TikTok is that it allegedly sends that data to server farms in China. And as we know, China doesn’t exactly have the best track record with privacy and individual freedoms. So, it ultimately comes down to the user to make an informed choice on whether TikTok is good for them. 

⚠️ Copyright Infringement Is No Joke ⚠️

Standing’s lawsuit is a pretty serious case. If successful, it could force TikTok to overhaul its entire text-to-speech feature in North America. But it probably won’t make a dent on TikTok’s already tarnished reputation.  

Looking at TikTok’s popularity among Gen Z, it’s safe to say the platform isn’t going anywhere any time soon. The app has over two billion downloads 😮 on Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. In just a few years, it has grown big enough to compete with large players like Youtube, Snapchat, and Instagram. But that doesn’t mean TikTok is above the law. 

The Standing case may be somewhat unique. But theft of likeness and intellectual property happens 👏 EVERY 👏 SINGLE 👏 DAY. Are you the victim of copyright infringement in the U.S., or are you being accused of violating copyright on TikTok or any other platform? Consult a social media attorney today to discuss your options! 💃