TikTok has agreed to settle a lawsuit with Bev Standing, the voice actress who said she was behind the app’s original text-to-speech voice. Standing sued TikTok in May, saying that the app was using her voice without permission. A robotic version of what sounded like Standing’s voice had been in the app for months, speaking over what felt like every other video at the time.
A lawyer for Standing said the settlement was still being finalized and details around payment could not be disclosed. “They’ve reached an amicable resolution,” Robert Sciglimpaglia, who represents Standing, said in a phone call with The Verge. Sciglimpaglia said TikTok would license Standing’s voice as part of the agreement, but it’s up to TikTok whether or not to use it. TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It sounds as though some strange mixup led to Standing’s voice being used by TikTok in the first place. Standing said that she made recordings for a text-to-speech feature “several years ago” but that they were meant to be used for translations of Chinese texts. No one else was supposed to use them. But somehow, her voice seems to have made its way to TikTok, where it became a near-ubiquitous presence.
“No matter what I do, I believe this is going to affect my business,” Standing told The Telegraph at the time.
TikTok never confirmed that it used Standing’s voice, but the feature sure sounded like her. About two weeks after the lawsuit was filed, TikTok’s text-to-speech voice changed. Instead of Standing’s odd monotone recording, it changed to a voice that’s relentlessly upbeat. One assumes TikTok checked the copyright on it.
Update September 29th, 6:15PM ET: Updated with comment from Standing’s lawyer.