Demand Surges for $30 AI-Generated Videos of Deceased Loved Ones in China, Sparking Ethical and Intellectual Property Concerns

More and more individuals in China are exploring the capabilities of AI technology to digitally recreate departed loved ones or notable figures. Recently, numerous "AI resurrection" accounts have emerged on social media platforms, offering tailored packages ranging from 198 yuan (approximately US$27) to 598 yuan (approximately US$83) for the creation of personalized digital human videos.

In a notable example, Chinese AI firm SenseTime crafted a digital representation of its late founder Tang Xiaoyu for display during its annual New Year’s celebration. Additionally, a Chinese musician utilized AI technology to bring back his deceased daughter in digital form, illustrating the remarkable potential of AI advancements.

These developments have piqued the curiosity of the general public, sparking increased interest in leveraging AI to immortalize departed loved ones through digital means.

Economical "AI Resurrection" Packages

These packages include services to create photos, voices and videos of deceased loved ones. Users just need to submit photos, voices or videos of the deceased loved ones to create a digital colon of their deceased loved ones. Offered at affordable rates, they are accessible to the majority of consumers.

Due to the popularity of these services, providers are recruiting apprentices and seeking downstream agents, offering AI video production tutorial services. This seems to be a more lucrative business, with packages in the range of as much as 20,000 yuan (US$2,778).

Ethical and Intellectual Property Concerns

The unauthorized use of a deceased actor’s images to create videos, posted on social media without the family’s consent, has sparked controversy and concern. The actor’s former agent recently voiced the family’s opposition to such arbitrary usage, demanding an immediate halt to the infringement.

These videos not only violate the rights of the deceased but also inflict emotional distress on their family members. The actor’s father expressed profound discomfort with the videos featuring his late son.

Moreover, as these services operate in an unregulated environment, transaction safety cannot be guaranteed. Payments are often made peer-to-peer, without third-party involvement or regulatory oversight.

As early as 2016, another AI company, Xiaobing, began researching AI "resurrection" technology. However, they warned about the associated risks, including data privacy concerns, regulatory issues, and emotional exploitation.

Regulations Regarding the Posthumous Portrait Rights

The unauthorized use of the deceased’s facial information to produce videos for promotion and profit using AI technology constitutes infringement, and their immediate relatives may claim civil liability against the infringer, according to relevant laws.

The deceased, as the right holder of their portrait right during their lifetime, have the right to consent to or refuse the use of their portrait right by others during their lifetime or after their death. If they explicitly refuse the use of AI technology on their portrait after death, any third party including their immediate relatives has no right to use AI technology to "resurrect" them.

When the right of portrait of the deceased is infringed upon, the immediate relatives of the deceased can bring a lawsuit to the court to safeguard the personality rights of the deceased.

They can demand the infringer to assume civil liability or claim compensation for mental damages from the infringer.

However, the responsibility for infringing rights is not solely on the creator. As a platform, there is also a responsibility to review and timely remove content suspected of infringement. If a network user commits infringement through network services, the right holder has the right to notify the network service provider to take necessary measures such as deletion, blocking, or disconnection of links.

After receiving the notice, the network service provider shall promptly forward the notice to the relevant network user and take necessary measures based on preliminary evidence of infringement and the type of service.


Related News: