Reality TV personality Kyland Young alleges in a proposed class action lawsuit that NeoCortext, Inc.’s face-swapping Reface app violates a California publicity law.
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Young—a Big Brother season 23 finalist and star on The Challenge: USA—alleges in the 17-page lawsuit that the deep-fake app developer has run afoul of California law by “commercially exploiting” his and other celebrities’ identities, images, names and voices without consent in order to sell paid subscriptions to the Reface app, which allows a user to swap their face with that of someone appearing in a movie or TV scene.
Per the suit, the Reface app uses “deep-fake” artificial intelligence technology to enable users to “swap faces” with celebrities, athletes, musicians and other popular personalities, typically in the images and videos of the roles that made them famous.
To promote the app’s paid subscription, Reface offers a free version that allows a user to “Become Anyone You Wished to Be” and provides access to the app’s database of film and TV clips and images, which the defendant claims to have gathered from MyBestGif.com, Tenor.com, Google Video and Bing Video, the case explains.
The complaint relays that a user can upload to the app a picture or video from his or her phone and click “Swap Face” to generate a watermarked “teaser” image or clip wherein the original face is swapped with the one they uploaded. The watermark, which displays the app’s logo and reads “made with reface app,” can be removed if the user signs up for a “PRO” subscription at a rate of $5.99 per week or $36.99 for a lifetime, the filing says.
The lawsuit claims that, as with other celebrities’ images, “[paying] PRO Users can become Plaintiff Kyland Young … and recreate his scenes from the television show.”
Although NeoCortext “profits off Mr. Young” and other famous individuals, the developer never sought authorization to use their identities for commercial gain and “certainly never paid Mr. Young or other[s] … a dime in royalties,” the suit claims.
According to the case, the California Right of Publicity Statute protects individuals against the unauthorized use of any of their attributes, including, but not limited to, their names, signatures, photos, images and voices, in the sale or advertisement of products, goods, merchandise and services.
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone residing in California whose name, voice, photograph or likeness was used in a Reface app “teaser” face swap or in the PRO version of the app since April 3, 2021.
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