New York’s Right to Publicity and Deepfakes Law Breaks New Ground

New York’s Right to Publicity and Deepfakes Law Breaks New Ground

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On November 30, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a path-breaking law addressing synthetic or digitally manipulated media. The law has two main components. First, it establishes a postmortem right of publicity to protect performers’ likenesses—including digitally manipulated likenesses—from unauthorized commercial exploitation for 40 years after death. Second, the law bans nonconsensual computer-generated pornography (often called deepfake pornography)—highly realistic false images created by artificial intelligence (AI). With this law, New York becomes the first state in the nation to explicitly extend a person’s right of publicity to computer-generated likenesses. This law has important implications to media and entertainment law and is part of growing legislative efforts around deepfakes. In sum, manipulated media is fast becoming a government-regulated field.

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