Deepfakes and the Law Conference

This conference will address an array of pressing private and public law questions raised by deepfakes.

Sponsored by the Society of Legal Scholars Small Projects & Events Fund, University of Leeds and City University, London 

Date: Monday 20th May 2024, 9.00–17.00 

Venue: City Law School, University of London, London. Sebastian Street Building or Online 

Co-convened by: Dr Thomas Bennett (City University School of Law) and Rebecca Moosavian (University of Leeds School of Law) 

About: One of the most fascinating and disconcerting technologies of the emerging AI-era is the ‘deepfake’ which manipulates video and photographic material, enabling users to create highly realistic footage of ‘target’ individuals saying or doing things that never actually happened. Deepfake technology has a range of legitimate, creative applications as face-swapping phone-app users and film audiences already know. But it has also enabled users to create deceptive footage, e.g. of celebrities engaged in sexual acts without their consent and President Zelensky urging Ukranian fighters to surrender to their Russian opponents. As these examples demonstrate, deepfake technology raises profound and novel questions of political, cultural and legal significance that warrant further analysis. For this reason the SLS recently awarded funding to convene a conference to consider some of these questions, which will take place in May 2024.

This conference will address an array of pressing private and public law questions raised by deepfakes. These will be organised across 4 designated panels. The first panel is titled ‘Image-Based Abuse & Consent’ with a keynote presentation by Professor Tsachi Keren-Paz (Sheffield University). It will consider the most common application of deepfake technology and gauge whether existing criminal and tort laws are fit for purpose to prevent and address non-consensual pornographic uses. The second panel is titled ‘Deepfakes, Disinformation & Truth’ with a keynote speech by Professor Yvonne McDermott Rees (Swansea University). It will analyse the impact of deepfake technology on the assumed ‘truth status’ of film and video, asking how courts, voters and audiences can reliably gauge the veracity of audio-visual footage in an age of deepfakes.

There will also be two ‘open’ panels that will draw together other deepfake-related legal dilemmas.  These will be curated from responses to a forthcoming open call for abstracts in September and will cover a range of questions, such as: how might intellectual property doctrines such as copyright and passing off be applied to determine authorship and ownership of deepfake material whilst also protecting consumers from misrepresentative deepfake adverts online? Will existing legal protections for parody adequately protect the Art 10 ECHR free expression rights of artistic and satirical deepfake creators? What responsibilities ought platforms such as TikTok and YouTube to assume in mitigating the potential harms posed by some problematic deepfakes?

Registration: Registration will be open in early 2024.