Using Synthetic Media to Get Around Copyright Laws

360-degree Video
March 10, 2020
A.I. at the Edge
March 10, 2020

Using Synthetic Media to Get Around Copyright Laws

In many countries it is illegal to plagiarize someone’s original content.

In many countries it is illegal to plagiarize someone’s original content.

You might remember the 1989 pop-rap crossover hit “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice. He sampled David Bowie and Queen’s collaboration “Under Pressure” (you know the base line hook: da-da-da—-da-da-da-dum) but didn’t get permission first.

He tried to get around copyright law saying that he added a beat between notes (Ice’s version: da-da-da—-da-da-da-dum, DA—-da-da-da—-da-da-da-dum) and made it a distinctly different song. The case settled out of court, but it shined a light on how U.S. copyright laws were created to protect the financial—not creative—interests of artists.

What if someone created a slightly altered copy of you for use in promotional commercials? For example if your likeness was edited to include facial hair and a pair of glasses you don’t have in real life, and then used without your permission. Would that eliminate the legal requirement for consent?

Israeli startup D-ID thinks so. It designed software to scrape video from security cameras to study emotion recognition—without first getting the express permission from the people in those videos.

Using software like this might not be a technical violation of the GDPR in Europe or CCPA in California, but it certainly violates the spirit of those laws.