Scarlett Johansson initiates legal proceedings over AI ad misuse

November 4, 2023

digital likeness

Scarlett Johansson has embarked on a lawsuit against an AI application that featured her image and name in an unauthorized AI promotion. 

The contentious 22-second promotion, disseminated on X, was the work of an image-generating application known as Lisa AI: 90’s Yearbook & Avatar. It incorporated authentic footage of Johansson, too.

In response to the unauthorized use of Johansson’s image, her representatives have informed Variety that she holds no association with the said company, and they have taken the necessary legal actions following the discovery of the advertisement on October 28. 

“We do not take these things lightly. Per our usual course of action in these circumstances, we will deal with it with all legal remedies that we will have,” expressed her attorney, Kevin Yorn, to Variety. 

The video commences with a behind-the-scenes snippet featuring Johansson on the set of the Marvel film “Black Widow,” saying, “What’s up guys? It’s Scarlett and I want you to come with me…” 

This is followed by a transition to AI-synthesized photos bearing her likeness. An imitative voiceover imitating Johansson then promotes the app: “It’s not limited to avatars only. You can also create images with texts, and even your AI videos. I think you shouldn’t miss it.”

The disclaimer accompanying the advertisement clarifies: “Images produced by Lisa AI. It has nothing to do with this person.”

The advertisement has since been withdrawn. Multiple applications from Lisa AI are still accessible on the App Store and Google Play.

Several celebrities have publicly denounced the use of AI deep fakes, including Tom Hanks, who alerted his followers about a dental plan advertisement that employed an AI-generated likeness of him: “Beware! … I have nothing to do with it.” 

Johansson has encountered similar issues before. In 2018, she addressed the unauthorized use of her image in “deepfakes,” as reported by the Washington Post. “Nothing can stop someone from cutting and pasting my image or anyone else’s onto a different body and making it look as eerily realistic as desired,” she noted. 

She further highlighted the lack of regulation on the internet, describing it as an “abyss that remains virtually lawless,” with US policies providing only limited legal reach.

AI-related deep fakes are a sinister product of the technology that was discussed extensively at the recent UK AI Safety Summit.

With the US election next year, many are concerned that deep fakes could influence voting behaviors, which may have already occurred in the recent Slovakian election.

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Sam Jeans

Sam is a science and technology writer who has worked in various AI startups. When he’s not writing, he can be found reading medical journals or digging through boxes of vinyl records.


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