Siri's Hebrew Voice Sues Apple Because She Doesn't Like The Way IPhone Owners Are Using Siri

from the how-not-to-sue dept

We cover a lot of weird and pointless lawsuits here at Techdirt. This one, filed by Israeli radio broadcaster Galit Gura-Eini, is one of the weirdest. At first brush, it seems like she might have a legit legal complaint on her hands.

Israeli radio broadcaster and voice artist Galit Gura-Eini, the voice of Waze’s first female navigation directions in Hebrew, alleges that Apple has been using her voice recordings without authorization. Gura-Eini claims she was surprised to learn she was now the voice of Siri when the app launched in Hebrew in 2016. Earlier this year, Gura-Eini approached Apple requesting her voice be removed from the Siri app, but the request was denied.

But things get significantly stranger as her claims continue. First off, it appears the claim against Apple for unauthorized use is bogus. Apple’s response to the lawsuit points out it licensed the recordings of Gura-Eini’s voice from Nuance Communications. Nuance had the rights to Gura-Eini’s voice, so Apple was under no legal obligation to remove the recordings just because she didn’t want the company to use them.

Things go completely off the rail with Gura-Eini’s other claims. She says she only granted a license to Nuance for “legitimate” uses. So she’s suing Apple over the actions of users, claiming the end use of pre-recorded syllables by certain iPhone owners isn’t legit.

The lawsuit suggests that Gura-Eini’s voice is “widely identified and associated” with her own live persona. Furthermore, users have taken to using the voice to make it say inappropriate things. This amounts to turning the plaintiff’s voice, “into a vehicle for improper and humiliating speech.”

The licensee — Apple — cannot control how end users manipulate a series of recorded syllables controlled by an algorithm. Its use of Gura-Eini’s voice for its Hebrew version of Siri is a completely legitimate use. No matter how disturbing it might be to hear your own voice saying horrible things you’d never say, the problem is end users, not Apple.

It’s impossible to see how this case moves forward. If the licensing is all in place — and it appears to be (Apple is longtime partner of Nuance Communications) — the only thing left is someone seeking to soothe their ruffled feathers with $66,000 from Apple’s checkbook.

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Companies: apple, nuance

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Comments on “Siri's Hebrew Voice Sues Apple Because She Doesn't Like The Way IPhone Owners Are Using Siri”

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31 Comments
Garysays:

Licenses

If anyone it would be Nuance that possibly violated the terms of the contract they had with her. If she says this is an inappropriate use then it is because Nuance licensed it to Apple as syllables and phonemes rather than complete sentences.

Unless she specifically sold Nuance the phonemes – in which case there would be no way to determine what a "Legit" use would be, would there?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Licenses

She almost certainly did sell Nuance the phonemes. As the official voice of Waze (among other things) it would be nearly impossible to have her recorded directly saying all possible streets and addresses in the markets that Waze serves. Though even that wouldn’t be full sentences, just short phrases. Full sentences would require her to say all possible variations of (in “distance” turn “direction”/continue on “street name” using “lane(s)”), which would be even less possible to accomplish.

Jan Sevensays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Licenses

She almost certainly did sell Nuance the phonemes.

Nah, you’re just guessing. My guess is that sold something like "tone", perhaps hard to define items like cadence, derived from samples. Modern techniques that you are evidently not up on (likely not on "deepfakes" either) can synthesize an almost perfect output.

Garysays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re:

Nuance as a company is rather involved with voice-to-speech and speech-to voice technology. It would be a good guess that they would have voice actors record a range of samples and phonemes for use in their products.

I mentioned both to cover all the bases – and either way, she doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

Jan Sevensays:

Forced association / hosting / literally speaking for.

Now, if was Facebook "platform", Techdirt would vehemently argue rights of association / term of service (= licensing) / First Amendment Right to control one’s speech (literally here!), but no, in Techdirt’s view, "natural" persons must always lose to globalist mega-corporations.

[PS: See, I’m sticking up rights of an Israeli! So you can NEVER again accuse me of "anti-Semitism", by Techdirt’s standard of once is enough for all time.]

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Forced association / hosting / literally speaking for.

You literally have no idea what you’re talking about, likely because you don’t even bother to read anything.

She was not “forced.”

This has nothing to do with the First Amendment.

This has nothing to do with terms of service.

Also, you protest too much. But that isn’t a surprise.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Forced association / hosting / literally speaking fo

“You literally have no grasp of (not entirely unjustified) analogy”

You have no grasp of the English language. Your analogy appears to be that if it were a completely different situation then the reaction would be different. Well, yes, it would…?

Garysays:

Re: Re: Forced association / hosting / literally speaking for.

Alright, I’m going to take a shot at answering this. I know that you are either going to run away or just respond with something irrelevant but I can try…

Now, if was Facebook "platform", Techdirt would vehemently argue rights of association / term of service (= licensing) / First Amendment Right to control one’s speech (literally here!), but no, in Techdirt’s view, "natural" persons must always lose to globalist mega-corporations.

I’m going to try to see what you are saying – she did work for hire. She signed a reasonable contract. (Not some weird adhesion clause like "using this website means we get all your data.) She likely even has an agent that negotiated her contract. (And – she is likely herself incorporated but I’m not going to check on that.)
So by all the copyright laws you hold dear, she has legally licensed Nuance to use her voice? What is your actual complaint here, or are you just bored?

[PS: See, I’m sticking up rights of an Israeli! So you can NEVER again accuse me of "anti-Semitism", by Techdirt’s standard of once is enough for all time.]

Your numerous attacks on the Jewish conspiracy are more telling than standing up for one person against a corporation. I’ll take this to be the "sarcasm" you mentioned.

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