Victor Wynne

White v. Samsung

All this recent OpenAI discourse reminded me of the time Vanna White sued Samsung for replicating her likeness using a robot on a Wheel of Fortune–style set in one of their commercials.

The results:

The United States District Court for the Southern District of California granted summary judgment against White on all counts, and White appealed.

The Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court, finding that White had a cause of action based on the value of her image, and that Samsung had appropriated this image. Samsung’s assertion that this was a parody was found to be unavailing, as the intent of the ad was not to make fun of White’s characteristics, but to sell VCRs.

Tying this to OpenAI’s use of a voice so similar to Scarlett Johansson‘s, the fact that it is being used in a commercial product to make it attractive to consumers, that is what makes her case against OpenAI so strong.