Scarlett Johansson sics lawyers on AI biz that cloned her for an ad

Plus: Beatles emit song with a little help from a neural network

Lawyers representing Scarlett Johansson have pressured the developers of an AI avatar-generating app into taking down an advert that used the Hollywood megastar's face and voice without permission.

Advances in generative AI have made it easier for people to create realistic deepfakes of public figures using widely available footage of them. In a short advert featuring a fake Johansson, images mimicking her likeness and voice described the Lisa AI app as not being "limited to avatars only." That is to say, you can use the software to do more than just generate pictures of yourself or others for your online profiles.

"You can also create images with texts and even your AI videos. I think you shouldn't miss it," the AI-made Johansson avatar continued. The 22-second ad was reportedly posted on Twitter, aka X, and a message accompanying the clip stated: "Images produced by Lisa AI. It has nothing to do with this person." The ad appeared to show the actress behind the scenes on Marvel flick "Black Widow".

Johansson's attorney Kevin Yorn told Variety he took legal action against the app's creators. The advert has since been removed as of late October. "We do not take these things lightly. We will deal with it with all legal remedies that we will have," Yorn said

The Register has asked the Lisa AI developers for comment. 

Last month, Tom Hanks warned fans he had nothing to do with the fake AI advert using his image to promote dental health. The likenesses of other actors and actresses – such as those of Bruce Willis and Tom Cruise – have been used for other adverts as well. The legal boundaries around the crafting of deepfakes modeled on real people aren't always clear. 

Nine US states have laws preventing people using the technology to generate non-consensual pornography – artificially placing a person in a sex scene without their permission – or false political content aimed at influencing elections. While some states allow civil actions over the unauthorized use of a person's appearance, the cases seldom come to court and are usually fixed with a cease-and-desist letter or two. 

In other AI entertainment-related news, the Beatles – or what remains of the band – on Thursday released a track written and sung by the late John Lennon. You can listen to it below.

Youtube Video

Lennon recorded the track at his New York home in 1978, two years before he was shot dead on his doorstep. His voice recording was stripped of background noise and enhanced using AI software from the decades-old track to make the now-released song, titled "Now and Then".

"We were able to take John's voice and get it pure through this AI, so that then we could mix the record as you would normally do. It gives you some sort of leeway," Paul McCartney told the BBC ahead of the track's release.

He, George Harrison and Ringo Starr all worked the Lennon recording in 1994 but just couldn't get the sound right. But after talking to film director Peter Jackson they found AI could do the necessary cleanup work and bring Lennon's voice back to life. ®

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