We cover a lot of weird and pointless lawsuits here at Techdirt. This one, filed by Israeli radio broadcaster Galit Gura-Eini, is one of the weirdest. At first brush, it seems like she might have a legit legal complaint on her hands.
Israeli radio broadcaster and voice artist Galit Gura-Eini, the voice of Waze’s first female navigation directions in Hebrew, alleges that Apple has been using her voice recordings without authorization. Gura-Eini claims she was surprised to learn she was now the voice of Siri when the app launched in Hebrew in 2016. Earlier this year, Gura-Eini approached Apple requesting her voice be removed from the Siri app, but the request was denied.
But things get significantly stranger as her claims continue. First off, it appears the claim against Apple for unauthorized use is bogus. Apple's response to the lawsuit points out it licensed the recordings of Gura-Eini's voice from Nuance Communications. Nuance had the rights to Gura-Eini's voice, so Apple was under no legal obligation to remove the recordings just because she didn't want the company to use them.
Things go completely off the rail with Gura-Eini's other claims. She says she only granted a license to Nuance for "legitimate" uses. So she's suing Apple over the actions of users, claiming the end use of pre-recorded syllables by certain iPhone owners isn't legit.
The lawsuit suggests that Gura-Eini’s voice is “widely identified and associated” with her own live persona. Furthermore, users have taken to using the voice to make it say inappropriate things. This amounts to turning the plaintiff’s voice, “into a vehicle for improper and humiliating speech.”
The licensee -- Apple -- cannot control how end users manipulate a series of recorded syllables controlled by an algorithm. Its use of Gura-Eini's voice for its Hebrew version of Siri is a completely legitimate use. No matter how disturbing it might be to hear your own voice saying horrible things you'd never say, the problem is end users, not Apple.
It's impossible to see how this case moves forward. If the licensing is all in place -- and it appears to be (Apple is longtime partner of Nuance Communications) -- the only thing left is someone seeking to soothe their ruffled feathers with $66,000 from Apple's checkbook.