Why Are Disney, Warner Bros. And Others Fighting New York’s “Deepfakes” Bill?


When you first hear that many major Hollywood studios like Disney, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, and Viacom are coming out against New York’s proposed bill on limiting the use of digital “deepfake” imagery…well, it sort of sounds like a dick move. Because the bill is mainly focused on preventing unsavory types from creating pornographic “digital replicas” of others without their consent.


Then consider that this same technology is used by these movie studios to a) “re-create” actors who might be deceased (with their estate’s permission) and b) “de-age” actors for certain roles/scenes.


While most of New York Assembly Bill A.8155B is pretty clearly focused on stopping unauthorized use of people’s images for deepfakes, the studios believe there is still enough “wiggle room” to hamper their use of this technology for their own movies.

Per Lisa Pitney, vp government relations at The Walt Disney Company:

“[T]he bill would create entirely unprecedented rights to control the use of ‘digital replicas’ and the use of celebrity images in sexually explicit material, which while presumably well-intended threaten expressive activities as a result of undefined, vague or otherwise problematic statutory language.”

This THR article on the battle goes into more detail, but the larger implication in all this is that we’re probably going to see a LOT more of this tech in use in the future—meaning, more “dead” actors coming to life, more “de-aging,” etc. That, to me, opens up a larger can of worms beyond just the deepfakes issue, but…

Brave new world, Folks!