‘AI Script’ Event in Tokyo Canceled Due to Plagiarism Criticism

The Yomiuri Shimbun

A performance featuring popular voice actors reading out an “AI script” had to be canceled last month due to criticism over the use of generative AI which possibly learns copyrighted works, including scripts, without permission.

“Isn’t this just a plagiarized script?” and “I can’t support the voice actors” were among the critical comments that were voiced. One expert said, “It’s necessary to give careful consideration to rights holders at events that use AI.”

A translation of the canceled event’s title is the “AI Rodokugeki [drama recitation] Series — ‘AI Love-Come [Rom-Com].’” The event, which was planned by an event organizing company in Tokyo, was touted as “a drama recitation which exceeds expectations — voice actors versus an AI script.” The idea was to get voice actors to perform an AI-generated romantic drama script at a theater in Tokyo.

Nineteen male and female voice actors who had worked on such popular anime series as “Kimetsu no yaiba (Demon Slayer)” and “Bleach” were set to take part in the event, which was scheduled for March 13 through March 20.

According to the organizing company, the script was written by a subcontracted creator using AI-generated works. The creator used several AI services, including the paid subscription version of ChatGPT, and several people checked the script for similarities to existing works, the company said.

The plan for the performance was to have the voice actors read lines from the script regardless of any unnatural content or plot points. In the panel discussion that followed, the AI-generated parts would have been revealed, the company said.

Generative AI learns massive amounts of data on the internet to improve its accuracy. Article 30-4 of the Copyright Law permits AI to learn from scripts and other works without permission unless it unfairly damages interests of copyright holders. However, rights groups and other organizations have voiced criticism about the current situation, saying, among other things, that it gives AI “a free ride.”

When on March 4 the company released an outline of the event on social media — accompanied by the message, “Voice actors will perform a script written by AI!” — they immediately received a flurry of criticism. One commented, “Isn’t training AI without permission equivalent to plagiarizing a script?” Another warned that if in the future voice actors’ voices are also learned by AI, nobody will be able to complain.

The company said it received about 500 critical comments before deciding to announce that the event was cancelled on March 9 — four days before the premiere. An official from the company said: “Although we used generative AI to explore new possibilities for entertainment, we failed to explain our intentions sufficiently. Considering the possibility of the voice actors involved being negatively impacted, we made the rather tough decision to cancel the event.”

Hajime Idei, a lawyer well-versed in AI and the Copyright Law, said the event was canceled “probably because transparency and explanations on the use of generative AI were lacking.” Idei also said, “When generative AI is used commercially, it’s necessary to carefully explain what it’s being used for and to consider the rights holders.”