Lawsuit Accuses Amazon of Using AI to Replicate Actors’ Voices in Road House Remake

In this post:

  • The lawsuit accuses Amazon of using AI to replicate actors’ voices in the Road House remake.
  • Legal complexities arise from previous agreements and copyright ownership.
  • Amazon denies allegations, emphasizing their copyright on the original screenplay.

A lawsuit has been filed against Amazon and MGM Studios, alleging the unauthorized use of AI technology in the production of the Road House remake. The suit, brought by R. Lance Hill, the original screenwriter of the 1989 Patrick Swayze film, accuses the studios of employing AI to replicate the voices of actors during a strike, breaching agreements with the actors’ union and infringing on copyright laws.

Allegations of AI voice replication

The lawsuit claims that Amazon Studios utilized AI technology to recreate the voices of actors involved in the 2024 remake of Road House. This alleged use of AI was purportedly a response to an actor’s strike, aimed at completing the film before the expiration of its copyright. Hill asserts that such actions violated agreements between major studios and the actors’ union, including Amazon’s commitment not to use AI in the project.

Legal complexities and copyright disputes

The case is further complicated by the legal intricacies surrounding the original screenplay. Hill, who penned the script for the 1989 version of Road House, signed a “work-made-for-hire” deal with the original producer, United Artists. While such agreements typically designate the studio as the copyright holder, Hill contests this, considering it as standard contractual language. He initiated efforts to reclaim the rights to his screenplay in November 2021, with the expiration of the copyright looming in November 2023.

Amazon’s denial and response

Amazon has vehemently denied the allegations, asserting that it explicitly instructed filmmakers not to use AI in the production of the movie. The company claims that if any AI technology was utilized, it was only in early versions of the film and was subsequently removed as per directives given to filmmakers. Additionally, Amazon refutes other claims made in the lawsuit, stating they are “categorically false” and maintaining that the copyright on the original Road House has not expired.

Implications and release controversy

The lawsuit seeks to halt the release of the remake, which is scheduled to debut at the SXSW festival on March 8th before premiering on Prime Video on March 21st. The controversy surrounding the alleged use of AI and the ensuing legal battle could impact the film’s reception and distribution, raising questions about ethical standards in filmmaking and intellectual property rights.

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