Actress Scarlett Johansson is filing a lawsuit against an AI app that used her likeness in a 2020 advertisement without her consent.
The actress appeared in a 22-second ad posted on X by an image-generating AI app called Lisa AI: 90s Yearbook & Avatar. A representative for Johansson confirmed to Variety that the actress is not a spokesperson for the app, and her attorney, Kevin Yorn, handled the situation. The advertisement was spotted by fans on Oct. 28, and appears to have since been wiped from the internet.
The AI Yearbook trend swept social media platforms last month, though it raised a number of security concerns. Some continue urge people to stop participating in viral AI trends, alleging that some applications keep personal data and use it to train the technology further.
NBC reported that a spokesperson for SNOW Corporation, the parent company of Epik, who started the yearbook trend, stated “The EPIK app does not store any personal information, including selfies, that is used to create AI yearbook results.” Security concerns aside, a number of striking SAG-AFTRA actors expressed that celebrities participating in the trend felt tone deaf, as chief among the union’s demands are AI regulations in the entertainment industry.
Johansson’s now vanished advertisement featured an old behind-the-scenes clip of the actress on the set of “Black Widow”, transitioning into an AI-generated voice resembling hers promoting the Lisa AI platform. The fine print under the advertisement reads: “Images produced by Lisa AI. It has nothing to do with this person.”
While a number of states have strict privacy laws surrounding advertisers utilizing a person’s real likeness without their permission, AI generated ads remain fairly uncharted territory. Actor Tom Hanks faced a similar situation recently, with his likeness used for a dental program advertisement that he was not actually involved in. “Beware! … I have nothing to do with it,” Hanks wrote on his Instagram story.
Why The Lawsuit Holds Extra Weight
Chief among the SAG-AFTRA demands are ownership of actors’ own likeness, as several studios have threatened to utilize AI generated versions of them in projects even after their death without the permission of their respective estates. Additionally, the union is striking for increased minimum pay rates, increased streaming residuals to match the rising inflation costs, and improved working conditions.
The lawsuit could break new ground for the union, which recently revealed that negotiations with the AMPTP to end the strike remain stalled. Lisa AI is yet to comment on the lawsuit at this time, and it remains unclear whether it will go to court. The WGA strike concluded in September.