Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made remarkable strides in reshaping various industries, but its foray into the entertainment sector has raised significant questions, particularly in the context of celebrities. From AI-generated voices to deepfake videos and 3D-generated lifelike figures, technology is beginning to blur the lines between the real and the synthetic. This surge in AI-driven creations has also ignited discussions about ownership and ethical concerns.
The ‘Disturbing’ Side of Technology
One of the most striking applications of AI in the entertainment industry is its ability to bring deceased actors back to life or craft digital replicas of living ones, often through high-tech 3D body scans. An instance that garnered significant attention was the use of AI to recreate the voice of the late actor Robin Williams. However, his daughter, Zelda Williams, expressed her discomfort with this technology, terming it as “disturbing.”
In an Instagram post, she voiced her concerns: “I’ve already heard AI used to get his ‘voice’ to say whatever people want, and while I find it personally disturbing, the ramifications go far beyond my own feelings. Living actors deserve a chance to create characters with their choices, to voice cartoons, to put their HUMAN effort and time into the pursuit of performance.”
Conversely, some individuals assert that AI can be used for educational purposes in a ‘positive’ manner. For instance, Amarjit Singh, a US-based software engineer, posted AI-generated songs featuring the voices of late artists like Sidhu Moosewala and KK. His intention was to preserve the voices of these artists for future generations and pay tribute to their work. However, even this well-intentioned use of AI faced backlash when Moosewala’s family requested the removal of the videos, citing the pain it caused to see his voice being used for new music.
The issue of ownership becomes particularly contentious when AI is employed to ‘copy’ a living actor. In a notable case, the Delhi High Court ordered 16 entities to refrain from infringing on actor Anil Kapoor’s personality rights. These entities were accused of misusing Kapoor’s image, name, voice, likeness, or other aspects of his persona through AI for financial gains without his consent.
Anil Kapoor clarified his stance, stating, “My intention is not to interfere with anyone’s freedom of expression or to penalize anyone. My intent was to seek protection of my personality rights and prevent any misuse for commercial gains, particularly in the current scenario with rapid changes in technology and tools like artificial intelligence.” Kapoor’s lawyer, Ameet Naik, emphasized that many celebrities are facing similar issues, with their iconic attributes being exploited and monetized.
Amitabh Bachchan found himself in a similar situation when his image and voice were used by mobile app developers and individuals conducting lotteries without his authorization.
Nonetheless, some argue that innovation is the key to resolving these issues within the realm of AI. Publicist Dale Bhagwagar points out, “If celebrities pass on celebrity rights to their families or production houses, they can live forever. Their families can receive monetary support, and newer fans will not be deprived of their art.”
The intersection of AI and celebrity rights raises complex questions about the boundaries of creativity, ownership, and ethics in the ever-evolving landscape of technology. As AI continues to advance, it becomes imperative to strike a balance between preserving the legacy of celebrities and respecting their rights while fostering innovation and creativity.