Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Can You Legally Swap Someone's Face Into Porn Without Consent?

Your face is yours forever, but so are many pics and videos online. Scary, isn't it? You don't know the half of it. In a sign of the times, questions are being raised over the legality of swapping people's faces onto pornographic videos and images. It's an uncomfortable subject that leads to uncomfortable answers from legislators and lawyers.

What Are "Deepfakes"?

"Deepfakes" is the eponymous term for editing in someone else's face to an otherwise real pornographic video. Got it? Good, because I'm not repeating it. Apparently this AI-assisted technology is on the rise and used to make your favorite celebrities unwitting stars on the deep recesses of the internet. 

As you might imagine, it's a potentially terrifying problem. Applications of the technology are as endless as your string of video-editing and vindictive exes.

A Story in Search of a Law

The scarier thing is what's (not) to be done about it. While there's been recent efforts to outlaw revenge porn and talk of a nationwide ban, "deepfaking" is a different animal.

It's one thing to pass laws enabling victims to receive justice for the actions of someone they know. But prosecutions against anonymous internet posters who use widely-available pictures have gone down recently.

There are potential legal options, but we must emphasize the word "potential." A defamation lawsuit is one possibility, but requires someone to sue and is expensive to prosecute.Owners of protected videos can sue for copyright infringement. And that can force companies to remove content from their sites. But those copyrights belong to somebody who isn't necessarily there to sue for you.

This is the kind of legal demilitarized zone that could use some legislative intervention.

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