Tik tok is one of the latest social media sites to have taken over the world as the most downloaded app on the Apple App store. With its target audience aged between 10 and 29, each account spends, on average, 52 minute per day on the app, scrolling through the humorous and skit-style videos.
TikTok is the international version of ‘Douyin’, a similar social media platform released amongst the Chinese market in September of 2016. TikTok was later launched in 2017 for iOS and Android phones and within a year of its release, TikTok’s development has continued to increase to 1 million daily views. Their founders have stated that their mission is to “capture and present the world’s creativity, knowledge, and precious life moments, directly from the mobile phone. TikTok enables everyone to be a creator, and encourages users to share their passion and creative expression through their videos.” By having 696 million users worldwide, its popularity is higher than the likes of Pinterest, Snapchat and Twitter.
It possesses hundreds of different effects, sounds and features, and, with its users being younger, the fear of speaking in front of strangers is prevalent. The movement from voice overs to a text-to-speech feature comes at an appropriate time in its popularity. It can be added to any video, and only requires the user to type out what they want it to speak.
While the simplicity of the feature has benefited thousands of the app’s users, it has come at a large price for the owner of the voice.
Bev Standing, of Ontario, Canada, is suing TikTok for using her voice in their text-to-speech function. In 2018, Standing has previously recorded approximately 10,000 sentences of audio for the Chinese Institute of Acoustics research body to use in translations. She believes that TikTok’s parent company, Bytedance, may have come into contact with the audio files, and used it on their platform without Bev’s permission.
Her voice can now be heard in thousands of comedic videos, some of which feature ‘foul and offensive language’, causing irreparable harm to her reputation. Bev has made a statement regarding this incident and has said that ‘her voice is her product and business’, and that it is unacceptable for TikTok to use her voice, ‘and not reimburse her for it’.
TikTok have not responded to the legal filing after it was issued in New York a few weeks ago, nor have their parent company. A decision will have to be made regarding who owns the intellectual property of the recording of the performance, and whether this was an infringement of Bev Standings’ intellectual property rights.
She is seeking damages for the emotional stress of having her likeness exploited without her consent, her loss of the ability to control the dissemination of her likeness, and her loss of the ability to control the association of her likeness; and is demanding up to $150,000 in damages for every copyright infringement.