Who owns your voice? Linguistic and legal perspectives on the relationship between vocal distinctiveness and the rights of the individual speaker

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-180
Number of pages43
JournalInternational Journal of Speech, Language and the Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2020

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  • Linguistics
  • speech and language processing
  • property
  • Ownership

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