The AI-assisted face-swapping technology known as deepfakes has not gone unnoticed by Hollywood, and now union SAG-AFTRA is working to “fight back” by opening up new legislative avenues. A spokesperson told Deadline that the union “has undertaken an exhaustive review of our collective bargaining options and legislative options to combat any and all uses of digital re-creations.”
Deepfakes first gained notoriety last December. As the community rapidly expanded, so did the spread of images and videos — often pornographic in nature — that featured the faces of non-consenting men and women swapped onto bodies that weren’t their own. “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,” a spokesperson told Deadline. “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.”
SAG-AFTRA’s efforts aren’t limited to deepfakes, the spokesperson says, but any re-creations that “defame our members and inhibit their ability to protect their images, voices and performances from misappropriation.”
But removing deepfakes from the web has already proven to be a near-impossible task; cut off one head, and three more appear on less-savory parts of the web. And though many mainstream platforms have taken a hard stance against deepfakes, videos and images continue to sneak by. Just this week, BuzzFeed reported that despite Pornhub’s vow to ban deepfakes from its platform, these fake videos continue to thrive on the platform.
As for the legality of deepfakes, the issue is murky at best. In a previous interview with The Verge, law professor at Santa Clara University School of Law Eric Goldman said a victim’s best recourse is to claim either defamation or copyright infringement, but even those avenues are riddled with problems. “[Celebrities are] going to have possibly fewer privacy rights,” Goldman said, “and defamation law will actually adjust and scale back the protection because of the fact that they’re famous.”