Samuel L. Jackson’s unique voice and use of explicit phrases in movies have become famous and well-known.  If you are a fan, you will soon have the option to switch Alexa’s current voice to him, as a premium feature. 

Samuel L. Jackson Signs Deal with Amazon for the Voice of Alexa

Jackson has a history of making good contract choices throughout his career.  Recently, he’s agreed to allow the use of his voice and personality as the voice of the AI assistant, Alexa.  For a special price of about a dollar, users of Alexa can opt to switch Alexa’s voice to that of Samuel L. Jackson with the option of either an explicit or non-explicit version of interaction.  You will be able to have Jackson’s voice wake you up, send you reminders, tell you jokes, etc.  

Using a “neural text-to-speech technology” that Amazon created to make Alexa’s voice sound more emotive and “human,” the company is able to make the use of celebrity voices possible.  Amazon indicates additional celebrity voices will be added in the future as voice packs you can add to your subscription.

How Do You Safeguard Rights of Publicity When Contracting for the Use of Your Voice?

While these arrangements between celebrities and Amazon for use of their well-known voices should include detailed contracts with clear stipulations to help ensure the celebrities’ intellectual property rights are protected, just how protected can they really be?  Identity and personality are extremely valuable assets for celebrities like Samuel L. Jackson.  Particularly Jackson’s voice is easily recognized as well as those famous one-liners he has shot out in movies.

The use of Samuel L. Jackson’s likeness through the virtual assistant Alexa sounds fun. Such deals must be likely to reap good money for the celebrities willing to contract with Amazon for releasing voice packs as well as help increase the visibility and “access” of the celebrities in people’s homes. However, could the use by consumers of Alexa services and these celebrity voice packs create scenarios in which a celebrity’s voice or personality “reaction” to a question or command result in an IP rights issue for the celebrity?  It’s likely that it will take time and the experience of it to know for certain. 

Alexa, How Best Can I Protect My Likeness?

Celebrities, once they get to that status, have most likely already had a good run with representatives negotiating contracts and securing agreements for them. Protection from misappropriation and third-party theft through misuse of one’s likeness can be difficult with today’s fast-moving technology and social media.   Therefore, as one works to reach that celebrity status, the assistance of attorneys with experience in protecting intellectual property rights can provide valuable insight on diligence that should be done with foresight to help protect those rights.

As technology evolves and virtual assistants like Alexa are made to seem more human and able to interact in more emotive and expressive manners, one should keep in mind that the responses, though learned, are actually still artificial. So, if Samuel L. Jackson’s voice responds to you through Alexa and you decide you don’t like the response, it’s not really his reaction/response… it’s just his voice.