Hebrew voice of Waze sues Apple for using her voice for Siri

“The longtime voice of Waze navigation app in Hebrew is suing Apple for using her voice for Siri,” Lital Dobrovitsky reports for CTech. She takes particular issue with the type of content her voice is coaxed into saying as Apple’s digital voice assistant. ‘Her voice on the Siri app is nothing but syllables joined together by an algorithm,’ Apple said in response.”

“The approximately $66,000 (NIS 250,000) lawsuit was filed Wednesday to a Tel Aviv District Court,” Dobrovitsky reports. “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.”

“Gura-Eini’s voice was recorded in 2007 by the local subsidiary of Burlington, Massachusetts-base speech recognition company Nuance Communications Inc. The suit claims Gura-Eini gave Nuance the rights to use the recordings in speech production software, and for what she called ‘legitimate’ purposes only,” Dobrovitsky reports. “Apple, through its lawyer Amir Halevy, claims as part of the suit it legally obtained the rights to Gura-Eini’s recordings from Nuance.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: She gave the rights to her voice to Nuance. Apple licenses her syllables from Nuance. Case closed. It’s not Apple’s fault that Gura-Eini didn’t think far enough ahead to make a better deal with Nuance in 2007.

Nuance CEO finally confirms its voice recognition tech is part of Apple’s Siri – May 30, 2013


  1. It’s Unreasonable to think that an individual would think ahead that the company is going to take the recording and chop it up into little pieces and reconfigure the syllables to use differently. That is unreasonable and Apple really is in the wrong in this case. I No you love them and they are rarely wrong in your book but in this case they are wrong

    1. I don’t think you know how this stuff works. If you do voiceovers for a living, and you do a job, the contract clearly defines (at least SHOULD clearly define) the rights you are granting. A voice can be for limited use, for one specific use, grant unlimited worldwide use, or anything in-between.

      In this case, the wording of the contract (which we do not know) should tell you if there is a valid claim here.

      I once had a conversation with the Australian voice of Siri. She told the story about how she did the Australian voice for one of the mapping companies, and then she was shocked when she heard her own voice as the Australian voice of Siri. Though she was unaware, it didn’t phase her at all. She thought it was cool. She had signed away the rights to her voice, and the company that then owned the rights sold them to Apple.

      I don’t know enough about this case to have an opinion—but I do know that Apple gets tons of lawsuits from people who come to realize years later that they should have made a better deal. That’s why legal representation is always a good thing—at the beginning.

    2. Do you honestly think Nuance would license rights to Apple that they were not absolutely sure they owned? Why is she suing just Apple, not Nuance? If there was something wrong with this transaction, wouldn’t Nuance also have some legal exposure for misrepresenting to Apple their rights to license the voice? I don’t think your “Unreasonable” expectation explanation will carry much weight with the court.

      1. In the end the case may depend on whether the contract has rights to use portions/fragments (phonemes) of a ‘whole’ recording vs only having rights to use the ‘whole’ down to the granularity of sentences/phrases.

        For example: An author publishes a book using a specialized ‘alien’ vocabulary and grammer rules invented by said author. The publisher is given rights to the book as the ‘whole’. I would say the publisher has no right to take phrases out of said book, cutting them into pieces and selling a ‘dictionary’ of that alien vocabulary w/o compensating the author.

    3. Not nearly as Unreasonable as the mindless drivel you wrote. I “No” you hate Apple, but perhaps educating yourself on this matter would save you future embarrassment in front of thousands of people?

  2. Mark Trencher,

    Yes, an individual would think ahead and suppose that a company would “take the recording and chop it up into little pieces and reconfigure the syllables to use differently.” That is just what speech synthesis software does. Did you think that the GPS in your car or phone has stored oral directions from every possible point on earth to every other point? Does Galit Gura-Eini recall sitting in a studio in Tel Aviv and providing Nuance with a full set of such directions, or did she just provide them with a stock of phonemes that could be assembled into words as required?

    “Reconfiguring the syllables to use differently” is what Nuance was doing for Waze in 2007 and what it is doing for Apple in 2018. Unless the voice artist limited the possible uses to just giving directions, she is going to lose this suit.

    1. Since you use GPS voices as your example, earlier versions required ‘voice actors’ to say phrases in several different ways which were generally used in their entirety. If ‘cut up’ it was usually limited to individual words and never down to the smallest units of sound (phonemes). Depending on when the Hebrew woman recorded her voice, it might be argued that the contract did not cover the current use.

      Another possibility could be a disagreement as to what each party considers “legitimate use”. e.g. use in standalone Apps vs part of an OS.

      1. I used GPS as an example because the plaintiff agrees that Nuance had the right to license her voice to Waze, which has always synthesized street names rather than prerecording them. Again, unless the contract restricts where Nuance can license its software and for what purposes, she is out of luck.

        The real issue here is that voice actors like Ms. Gura-Eini are terrified that they will lose their livelihoods to increasingly lifelike voice synthesizer software. Companies like Nuance aren’t quite ready to replace humans reading audio books, dubbing movies, and creating radio ads, but they are getting close. This suit is an effort to slow or stop the trend.

  3. This person is just after a pay-day. She already received one from Nuance when she obviously licensed her voice. Getting paid twice for the same work is something she should have thought of originally, too bad that she didn’t. Sad.

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