Scarlett Johansson is the latest in a growing line of celebrities having their likenesses used in advertising campaigns without their knowledge or consent. The Avengers actress, however, is fighting back.
The actress has taken legal action against an artificial intelligence app that used her name and likeness in an online ad without permission. The 22-second ad was posted on X, formerly Twitter, on October 28 by Lisa AI: 90s Yearbook & Avatar, an AI image-generating app that lets users upload photos to create AI avatars.
Johansson’s legal representatives have confirmed with Variety she is not an official spokesperson for the app, nor did it request permission to use her image. The ad has since been removed.
“We do not take these things lightly,” Kevin Yorn, Johansson’s attorney, told Variety. “Per our usual course of action in these circumstances, we will deal with it with all legal remedies that we will have.”
The ad uses behind-the-scenes footage of Johansson on the set of Marvel’s Black Widow. The actress appears to say, “What’s up guys? It’s Scarlett and I want you to come with me…” cutting off as a graphic covers her mouth, and the screen erupts into a series of transitions of Ai-generated images resembling the actress.
The Johansson avatar continues speaking, 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.”
Although a few lines of text appear at the end of the ad saying, “Images produced by Lisa AI. It has nothing to do with this person,” several states have strict laws protecting people from having their personas swiped without consent. California bans the unauthorized use of someone’s “name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness” for advertising or other promotional campaigns, but still, instances of persona plagiarism are popping up.
A spokesperson for Lisa AI did not immediately respond for comment, but the apps are still available on Google Play and the App Store.
This year has seen a number of celebrities taking to social media, warning followers not to be deceived by a wave of deep fake videos posted on social media. Tom Hanks warned fans of a deepfake video of him promoting a dental plan, while co-host of CBS Mornings Gayle King had a promotional video she shot for her radio show altered to make her appear to be slinging a new weight loss fad. YouTuber Mr. Beast had his likeness involved in an iPhone 15 Pro scam, and actor Stephen Fry had his voice stolen for an audiobook without permission.
While social media platforms are trying to cull the plethora of deep fakes emerging this year, cases like Johansson’s show there is still a long way to go to ensure people’s personalities and privacy are protected online.