SAG-AFTRA says it’s “fighting back” against the dangers posed by new face-swapping technologies that have been used to digitally superimpose the faces of its members onto the bodies of porn stars. In recent months, the technology – known as “deepfaking” – has hijacked the likenesses of several famous actresses and singers to make it appear that they were performing in pornographic films.
“We are closely watching the development of so-called deepfakes,” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris wrote in the new issue of the union’s official magazine. “This artificial intelligence tool has the ability to steal our images and superimpose them onto another person’s body in potentially unpleasant and inappropriate digital forms. SAG-AFTRA is focused on these emerging processes and fighting back when the technology infringes on our members’ rights.”
The rapidly developing technology has also been used to digitally alter the words of world leaders, and could be used to create truly fake news by altering the words and images of TV newscasters, many of whom are represented by SAG-AFTRA.
A spokesperson said the union is addressing the issue on several fronts, including legislatively.
“SAG-AFTRA has undertaken an exhaustive review of our collective bargaining options and legislative options to combat any and all uses of digital re-creations, not limited to deepfakes, that defame our members and inhibit their ability to protect their images, voices and performances from misappropriation. We are talking with our members’ representatives, union allies, and with state and federal legislators about this issue right now and have legislation pending in New York and Louisiana that would address this directly in certain circumstances. We also are analyzing state laws in other jurisdictions, including California, to make sure protections are in place. To the degree that there are not sufficient protections in place, we will work to fix that.
“We want to protect our members from the unauthorized use of their persona, including their digital replica, in advertisements, products, merchandise, company branding, fake news, movies, video games, or pornography,” the SAG-AFTRA spokesperson added. “And we want to see these protections for both living and deceased individuals. Neither New York nor Louisiana have post-mortem rights of publicity, despite their large entertainer populations. The right of publicity is a property asset, designed to protect the livelihood of our members from misappropriation and theft, and it should be exclusively or non-exclusively licensed or passed down to heirs, much like a copyright. Where a content creator misappropriates a living or deceased individual for commercialized fake news or fake porn, or in expressive works depicting the individual performing the activity for which they are known, e.g. delivering the news or performing fictional characters, we believe explicit protections should be in place. We also support new judicial theories to extend protections to individuals and their heirs who are victimized in fake porn videos.”