‘Black Widow’ Scarlett Johansson Threatens Massive AI Lawsuit

in Entertainment, Marvel

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow staring forward

Credit: Marvel Studios

Marvel star Scarlett Johansson is ready to push back against the threat of artificial intelligence in Hollywood.

Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) walking down a hallway after a fight in Iron Man 2
Credit: Marvel Studios

The use of AI technology in television and cinema is a controversial topic, with major studios like Marvel and Warner Bros Discovery eager to figure out ways to utilize it to replace actors and writers. Naturally, those actors and writers are not happy about that, but there is another AI threat looming on the horizon.

Deepfake Ads

In recent months, more and more celebrities have found themselves impersonated by AI without their consent, often for the purpose of shilling products they have no connection with. Notably, the likeness of two-time Academy Award winner and American icon Tom Hanks was used to promote a dental plan scam, forcing the actor to publicly state that he did not endorse the ad and warning others.

Tom Hanks on red carpet
Credit: ABC

Now, Scarlett Johansson is taking things even further and threatening legal action against an AI app that she says unlawfully used her likeness to promote itself (per Variety).

Related: Could Artificial Intelligence Replace Beloved Disney Characters Soon?

Lisa AI App

An online advertisement for the popular AI image-generating Lisa AI: 90s Yearbook & Avatar app used footage of Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in a Marvel Cinematic Universe project, followed by AI pictures of the actor. Johansson’s lawyer, Kevin Yorn, has confirmed that she is not a representative of Lisa AI and that this usage and the generated images were not authorized.

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in 'Black Widow' on Disney+
Credit: Marvel Studios

The actual advertisement appears to have been scrubbed from the Internet but used footage from Black Widow (2021), showing Scarlett Johansson said, “What’s up guys? It’s Scarlett, and I want you to come with me…” followed by AI-generated photos that appeared to be of the actress.

An AI-generated voice resembling Scarlett Johansson followed, saying, “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 disclaimer read, “Images produced by Lisa AI. It has nothing to do with this person.”

According to Yorn, “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,” indicating that Johansson is willing to go to the mats over this legal action.

Related: Op-Ed: Disney Animation Stands Against AI with Latest Project

Scarlett Johansson and Lawsuits

scarlet johansson as natasha romanoff aka black widow superhero pose in iron man 2
Credit: Marvel Studios

The Lisa AI app should probably be very cautious in how it proceeds, given that Scarlett Johansson has a history of very successful legal action. The actress sued the Walt Disney Company over the release of Black Widow in a very public, very contentious battle in 2021, and eventually forced the famously litigious company to settle for a reported $40 million payout. If she can get the House of Mouse to back down in courts, she can make anyone.

Congress is currently working on legislation to provide protections to actors and creators who have their likeness and work imitated and misused by AI tools, so she very well might have the government on her side too. Without a doubt, whatever happens in the courts over this, it will be a very big deal for the future of AI.

What do you think about celebrities having their images used by AI without their knowledge? Let us know in the comments below!

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