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Scarlett Johansson takes legal action against AI app that used her image

The advertising space was broadcast only once on October 28 on the social network X, but the star’s lawyer warned ‘we do not take these things lightly’

Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson at the premiere of the film 'Avengers: Infinity War' in 2018.Getty (FilmMagic)

Scarlett Johansson has taken legal action against an artificial intelligence application that used her name and image in an online advertisement without her permission. Academy Award nominee Johansson appeared in a 22-second ad posted on the social network X on October 28 by a popular AI image generation application called Lisa AI: 90s Yearbook & Avatar. The performer’s representatives have pointed out that Johansson has neither lent her image to the app nor is a spokesperson for it and that her lawyer, Kevin Yorn, has initiated “all legal remedies,” as he told Variety.

The ad has not been aired again since October 28. However, Yorn stated that “we do not take these things lightly.” The short clip began with footage of Johansson in the 2021 Marvel-produced film Black Widow, in which she played the eponymous protagonist. A voice was then heard saying: “What’s up, guys? It’s Scarlett and I want you to come with me…” The actress’ mouth was hidden by a graphic while AI-generated images resembling her face were shown. At the same time, a voice eerily similar to the artist’s said about the product in question: “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.” A message in small print at the bottom of the ad warned, “Images produced by Lisa AI. It has nothing to do with this person.”

This AI product, created by the company Convert Software, is available on both Google Play and the App Store. Variety notes that the company has declined to provide any comment on the matter.

Johansson sued Disney in July 2019 over the release of Black Widow on its digital platform because she felt it was in breach of contract with the simulcast of the film. The actress claimed that the agreement with Marvel Studios, owned by the entertainment giant, only contemplated a theatrical release and that its release on Disney+ affected a percentage of revenue that depends on the box office.

Some U.S. states have already passed laws against the unauthorized use of a person’s “name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness” for advertising or promotional purposes. George R. R. Martin filed a lawsuit against OpenAI, the creator of the popular ChatGPT application, for alleged copyright infringement after the company trained the artificial intelligence tool with texts written by the author.

Johansson’s case is not the first among the Hollywood elite. Last month, Tom Hanks used his social media accounts to warn consumers about a promotional video for a dental plan that used images of him without his permission and with which he was not involved in any way.

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