back to article New York State is trying to ban 'deepfakes' and Hollywood isn't happy

Several Hollywood companies have rallied against a bill that would ban the creation of fake pornographic videos made using AI. Bill A08155, filed by the New York State Assembly on May 31, looks like the first legal step taken to combat ‘deepfakes’, a technique that alters videos by stitching other people’s faces often onto the …

  1. elDog Silver badge

    "A letter written by Lisa Pitney, vice president of government relations at Disney"

    I think we might see some "deepfake" video of M. Lisa Pitney performing with several barnyard animals. (Of course, I've never heard of this stuff nor have any interest in it.)

    It would be similar to some NRA officials being offed by various assault weapons.

    Fitting justice.

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Fitting justice.

      Indeed, the nerve of it, thinking we have the right to our own images! It's much more important that wankers with poor imaginations can still get off.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Fitting justice.

        Indeed, the nerve of it, thinking we have the right to our own images! It's much more important that wankers with poor imaginations can still get off.

        LOL!! Upvoted because its the funniest comment I've read all morning.

      2. BillG Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Fitting justice.

        Indeed, the nerve of it, thinking we have the right to our own images!

        You can't use the images of certain deceased stars like John Wayne, Johnny Carson, Frank Sinatra, etc. without the written consent of their families or license holders. Why not give the common person the same rights?

        Oh, I forgot, we are common people and do not have the same rights. Appropriate icon chosen. Thank you.

        1. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: Fitting justice.

          >Why not give the common person the same rights?

          There's just too many of us. There's a statistical probability that any generic face will fit a particular person, alive or dead. Public figures like those you mention are relatively rare so they can get away with effectively copyrighting their personas.

    2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: "A letter written by Lisa Pitney, vice president of government relations at Disney"

      "performing with several barnyard animals."

      Don't know about your local laws, but that stuff is illegal around here.

      Had to have the "talk" with more than a few professionals who should know better that sending "funny" porno emails might not get them canned, pictures of bestiality (and other such depravities) will not only get you canned, but prosecuted and put on the sex offenders register.

  2. The Nazz Silver badge

    Bullshit

    "It would make biopics about actors, musicians, or athletes impossible, according to an memorandum written by the MPAA."

    Bollocks, just ask the subject* for consent. And f*cking pay them their dues. Simple.

    *or estate.

    Perpetual copyright/consent works both ways.

    Leftfield idea : Why not prosecute, and jail, such twunts for making such fake statements?

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Bullshit

      Yes, thank goodness this technology has come along now. How many times have you thought "it sure would be great if there was such a thing as 'biopics', shame it's technically impossible to make them"?

      Dear Hollywood: it's called "acting", you should try it sometime.

    2. Mycho Silver badge

      Re: Bullshit

      I can see this being a legal minefield. Who did Freddie Mercury leave the rights to his image to? He's the one who's been using tech to perform post-mortem on a regular basis.

      Still, lawyers might as well do something for their paycheques.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Bullshit

        Still, lawyers might as well do something for their paycheques.

        It'd be for the benefit of all society if they didn't.......

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Bullshit

      Exactly, they aren't banning the use of deepfakes, that are making sure that it isn't abused and people are exploited. I see no harm here...

    4. Alan J. Wylie Silver badge

      Re: Bullshit

      So crafting a “digital replica” for films, adverts, musicals, for commercial purposes or without explicit written consent is violation of an individual’s rights."

      And what about Woody Alllen's Zelig and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid?

      1. Zippy's Sausage Factory

        Re: Bullshit

        And what about Woody Alllen's Zelig and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid?

        What about them? They use archive footage, as does Forrest Gump. Different thing altogether.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bullshit

          And what about Woody Alllen's Zelig and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid?

          What about them? They use archive footage, as does Forrest Gump. Different thing altogether.

          It's not a different thing--it's precisely what this over-reaching law would actually ban as a result.

          Laws like this are pointless, because the content that's been produced using the deepfakes technology has been created and posted online by anonymous individuals, who likely won't be deterred by legislation. All that laws like this accomplish is stifle legitimate creative endeavors that were lumped into the same category by laws using language that is too broad to specifically target the thing they have an issue with.

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: Bullshit

            Laws like this are pointless, because the content that's been produced using the deepfakes technology has been created and posted online by anonymous individuals, who likely won't be deterred by legislation.

            By that logic, laws against child porn are just as pointless.

            Zelig inserts contemporary actors into old footage. No issue there. Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid would be more problematic - and it should be - except that the studio presumably owns all the footage, and clearly the rights that go with it would be written into the actors' contracts. Apart from that, I suspect that if you tried to make either one of these movies nowadays, you'd get far more trouble from copyright trolls than from this law.

            1. Stevie Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Bullshit

              A Million Upvotes for veti, and an e-beer.

              Nail struck squarely on head.

              The *issue* is licensing and release permissions. You make a fake porn movie, you owe fees to the face actor and the body double.

              This is usually covered by licensing when using other people's footage. (Or music - that's why some DVD collections have different soundtracks to the broadcast/theatre release versions).

              I can trace this sort of negotiation back to the use of Smith to record The Weight on the Easy Rider soundtrack, but I bet there are earlier examples to be found outside of my personal experience.

    5. xeroks

      Re: Bullshit

      what they mean is "It would make future unauthorised biopics about actors, musicians, or athletes look a bit 20th century because the viewer would see the actor's face, not the face of the person being represented. Also we won't be able to tart up our old stock of biopics."

  3. Toolman83

    Follow the money

    So this would mean that Hollywood would have to pay people to use their likeness?

    They don't want that, they want too use it for free...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Follow the money

      like Forrest Gump ?

      But, but, Nixon never got a chance to screw Uma on an asteroid - we've made things better!

  4. harmjschoonhoven

    A08155 Summary: Establishes the right of privacy and the right of publicity for both living and deceased individuals; provides that an individual's persona is the personal property of the individual and is freely transferable and descendible; provides for the registration with the department of state of such rights of a deceased individual; and that the use of a digital replica for purposes of trade within an expressive work shall be a violation.

    Good heavens, do these people not value fine eighteen century Japanese erotic prints? NSFW

  5. 89724102372714531892324I9755670349743096734346773478647852349863592355648544996313855148583659264921

    It's come on

    It really does beat 3d recreations like that awful scampering dead-eyed implike fake Hepburn in that Galaxy ad. Quite astonishing quality compared to a few months ago, imagine being able to recast any movie or TV feature on the fly; voice emulation technology is already there.

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Re: It's come on

      I sure beats 16 colour Gifs, but then that's all we had back then.

      If the corporates find themselves faced with a more productive DIY industry that has taken to their bedrooms and are making pretty decent clips, will we now see something as silly as 'home taping is killing music'?

    2. Andrew Moore Silver badge

      Re: It's come on

      Worst thing is- I think that was a Hepburn lookalike, not CGI...

      1. 89724102372714531892324I9755670349743096734346773478647852349863592355648544996313855148583659264921

        Re: It's come on

        The Hepburn Imp was a bit of both lookalike and CGI, as was the travesty of a treatment of Sean Young - shrunken weird looking CGI facial features shoehorned lost in a face too big in Bladerunner 2049. Deepfakes look far more human.

  6. FozzyBear Silver badge
    Devil

    Unless there is a version of the black swan scene but with trump and Un faces then I call this fake news.

    I'll now leave you with that imagery

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      WHERE IS THE MENTAL BLEACH...

      a version of the black swan scene but with trump

      Still looking for that bottle of mental bleach in the household cupboard...

      1. Dabooka Silver badge

        Re: WHERE IS THE MENTAL BLEACH...

        My approach has changed.

        Sometimes it pays off to think 'Nah, that looks rubbish' despite what everyone + dog says about a film. If it doesn't appeal, don't bother. It was interesting when Barry Norman described it as the biggest over-hyped piece of rubbish he's ever seen, which kind of supports the theory.

        I did however watch Cloverfield after saying it looked shite, as I was challenged that I couldn't say that without watching it. Well I did and it was. Add to the list Blair Witch and 2012.

      2. Pedigree-Pete Bronze badge
        Pint

        Re: WHERE IS THE MENTAL BLEACH...

        In the drinks cabinet or if not available, use your local pub. :) PP

  7. Dan 55 Silver badge

    I know why Disney is against it

    That's their plans for Star Wars XVI and Marvel Superhero Film 60 up in smoke.

    But woe betide anyone who copies their badly-drawn 90-year-old mouse though.

    1. big_D Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: I know why Disney is against it

      Hmm, a deepfake of Disney execs and Mickey in a compromising positions, then ask Disney if deepfaking is ok.

      1. StheD

        Re: I know why Disney is against it

        Even better, use the head of the divine Walt himself. Then they'll get the message.

  8. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Ain't going to work

    I can see this working for Germany and countries which have cut-n-pasted that paragraph from the German constitution such as Russia and Eastern Europe. They establish the honor of the individual as a constitutional right (*).

    For good or for bad, there is no constitutional protection for one's honor in USA constitution. There is nothing of the kind in common law either. Your honor is a fair game and is trumped by everything before it in the queue such as the right to free speech in USA constitution.

    As a result the lifetime of this law is up to the first court. The first court will terminate it with extreme prejudice on first amendment grounds.

    * In the RF constitution it is paragraph 23 - the same one which establishes the right to privacy of correspondence as a constitutional right. I can't be arsed to look for the actual number in others before my 5th intravenous espresso.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Ain't going to work

      "For good or for bad, there is no constitutional protection for one's honor in USA constitution....The first court will terminate it with extreme prejudice on first amendment grounds."

      Perhaps, rather than dealing with this as an act they should make it a constitutional amendment instead. It's time the US constitution was brought into line with those of civilised* countries.

      * AFAICS some of the constitutional amendments are based on a romantic notion of the US as a pioneering country, pluckily advancing beyond the known limits of civilisation. If they want to be treated by the rest of us as civilised they need to start acting that way and the first step would be to get rid of that notion.

    2. Alistair Silver badge

      Re: Ain't going to work

      @VRH:

      Upvoted for "intravenous expresso". I've been on those for the last two years. The doctors tell me its a life long thing now.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If it's labeled as fake how is it fraud ? And how can folk own their image when anyone in the street can photograph them ? All seems over the top to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And how can folk own their image when anyone in the street can photograph them?

      Yes, anyone in the street can photograph or film you, however, if they want to use the image or video for public display, then your consent must sought.

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Plus, if they get an image of you in the street being rammed every which way by multiple cocks, it's because you were having an orgy in the street.

        Taking a picture of someone walking down the street is somewhat different to having AI take existing innocent footage, build a model, and then almost seamlessly put your head and face onto the body of someone in a gay orgy clip.

      2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        ...if they want to use the image or video for public display, then your consent must sought.

        No, there is no expectation of privacy while in public and that includes images taken in public being published. It is polite to ask, but it is not a legal requirement, at least not in the US in general terms. There are specific guidelines that vary between jurisdictions and there is some subject matter that has additional restrictions placed on it, but in general there is no consent requirement.

        1. strum Silver badge

          >No, there is no expectation of privacy while in public and that includes images taken in public being published. It is polite to ask, but it is not a legal requirement, at least not in the US in general terms.

          Nor in the UK. You cannot, however, suggest that the imaged person endorses some product, service, or policy, without their permission.

  10. Mycho Silver badge

    This will, of course, mean that to work on a Hollywood movie you need to sign over the rights to use your image for digitally reconstructed stuff later.

    Which means Harvey Weinstein would still have had the ability to legally make porn of any actress who worked for him.

  11. LucreLout Silver badge

    .....and what of the mouse?

    Entertainment companies like Disney, NBCUniversal and several others represented by the trade association The Motion Picture Ass. of America (MPAA) have hit back, declaring the bill to be too restrictive to creativity and storytelling

    Presumably they'll be happy if I start creating deepfakes of Mickey Mouse doing whatever the hell I like then? No? Hmmm, hypocrisy in action, again.

  12. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Oliver Reed in Gladiator - though he was partly through filming before he passed on. Carrie Fisher in Star Wars Rogue One ditto - though she'd completed her filming, they used CGI to recreate a c. 1978 Ms Fisher. Peter Cushing, similarly recreated, was sadly long gone.

    It seems Lucas Film are routinely making 3D scans of all their actors (and puppets) for future reference:

    https://www.esquire.com/uk/latest-news/a19742240/lucasfilm-digitally-scanning-faces-star-wars-cgi-princess-leia/

  13. MonkeyCee Silver badge

    All fakes, not just deepfakes

    So this law would apply to fake pictures too, I presume? Since there seems to be a plethora of photoshopped porno pictures out there, then this would apply to them, surely?

    And if it passes, what about offensive memes using a persons likeness?

    Either way, you'll end up with one of two things. Either the first amendment will trump it, as long as the produces make some sort of disclaimer (parody, satire, entertainment only), or you get to censor any and all pictures and movies.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How on Earth do they intend to enforce this? Good luck with getting any deepfakes taken down or prosecuting the creator if the content is being served up from a web site hosted in Russia.

  15. Geekpride

    Too easy to circumvent

    This is an entirely pointless "something must be done" stunt. There's a massive and obvious loophole in the proposed law, especialy this bit: “Use of a digital replica of an individual shall constitute a violation if done without the consent of the individual if the use is in an audiovisual pornographic work in a manner that is intended to create and that does create the impression that the individual represented by the digital replica is performing,”

    If you're making deepfake porn, put a disclaimer at the start video saying that it isn't really (insert celebrity name) in the video, and you're in the clear.

  16. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Why is Disney involved? Who's making deepfakes of Donald Duck with a pair of tits?

  17. strum Silver badge

    If anything, the legislation is too narrow. Why just pornography? Why would it be permissable in advertising, in politics, in anything - to pretend (convincingly) that X said or did something they did not say or do?

    (Before anyone suggests this would outlaw impressionists - there's a huge difference between a body adopting someone else's mannerisms and someone else co-opting their image.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The "pretend" bit is a bit vague. If you put an Elvis impersonator, even a very good one, in an advertisement for a mobile phone, say, then would that be all right because no one would think it was the real Elvis? Where do you draw the line?

      This sort of question has already been discussed in an English court, I think. See Bedford v The Number, previously reported on in The Register, though I don't know what the conclusion was or even what the precise issues were.

      1. Pedigree-Pete Bronze badge

        Re: Bedford v The Number

        Thanks for posting that. Now I remember that case. Have an upvote. PP

  18. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Can we at least ban the use of the term "Deepfakes"?

    It is uninformative.

    If you are proud of your work, whoever is making this stuff, call it what it is: Fakeporn.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      "Deepfake"

      If I'm following this, "deepfake" is what's not obviously fake - and may be passed off as genuine.

      Internationally, several elections have had voters asked to decide whether some alleged leaked phone calls of candidates doing illicit things were genuine or falsified or creatively edited. Presumably some are real and most are not.

      If Disney wants to dramatise public figures misbehaving from hearsay, they can make cartoons. This would tell the story would not be mistaken for real video. They made a cartoon where Donald Duck was a Nazi German (but he was just having a nightmare). More recently, the controversial Taiwanese "Next Animation Studio" has been providing cartoon dramatisations of news stories for years.

      As for performing with animals, Snow White and Mowgli sang alongside animals on screen. Gene Kelly danced with Jerry Mouse from "Tom & Jerry". Andy Serkis by now can probably play as any creature on earth or under it. I'm not sure if I have a point in this paragraph.

  19. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Hmm, Disney weighing in?

    I be we'll see their attitude change smartish when a whole new series of cartoons come out featuring such faves as Princess Jasmine and Mulan.

  20. Tikimon Silver badge

    How does this affect Impersonators?

    Scads of folks making a living based on their resemblance to someone famous. I can't even count the Elvis impersonators I've seen in my life. So now they're illegal? They're using the famous persona in "trade".

    Possible loophole? What if we simply don't use the Famous Name? That's not a fake of Paris Hilton, that's "Airhead", a character loosely based on Paris. Etc.

    Possible defense? That's not a fake of Paris Hilton, that's modified media of Ellen Carwood, who just happens to look like Paris Hilton, and has given full consent to the alterations.

  21. Howard Hanek
    Childcatcher

    Unicorn Extinction

    .....another Unicorn extinction event.

  22. cortland

    Not just video

    Writing in the same style – anonymously – as any well-known public figure, actor or actress, etc. could be taken for writing by that person.

    Who shall be first?

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