Artificial Intelligence, NIL, and Theme Parks

September 30, 2023, 8:46 AM

With the passing of another actor from the Harry Potter movies this week, it got me thinking about the application of AI to re-create on the screen, the character for another movie or an interactive sceen in a theme park ride. Where are the lines drawn? Who owns the character? More importantly, who owns the image rights to the person once he or she has passed away? Can Florence Henderson's family set up Skype calls with an AI so you can have a "mom" conversation with Mrs. Brady? What about conversations with historical figures like Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln?

Replies (5)

September 30, 2023, 9:16 AM

The estate of a late actor owns their likeness for commercial use, unless a studio or producer bought that image during the actor’s lifetime, which is usually done in regard to a character likeness.

So yeah, heirs can license their ancestor as an AI avatar. And for historical figures, I believe there is a limit to how long heirs own commercial rights, but I am not a lawyer. And if there are no heirs, that’s an issue, too.

I am sure that the likeness of all the HP actors as their characters are locked down by WB and their continued use after the actor’s death will be no issue under whatever license WB has issued, such as Universal’s.

September 30, 2023, 10:31 AM

Thanks, Robert!

I guess it's something else for the kids to fight over if we do a lousy job of writing our wills. ;)

September 30, 2023, 11:56 AM

Tim - It's actually quite frequent that estates sell/license the rights to a celebrity that has passed away. In fact, there is an entire Whitney Houston hologram show on the Vegas Strip. In an example that more closely mirrors topics on this page, Disney/Lucas Films had to get the negotiated with Carrie Fisher's family (daughter and brother) to recreate her likeness for the Rise of Skywalker.

Edited: October 1, 2023, 10:49 AM

@MLB - Now that you mention it, I do recall hearing about the Carrie Fisher likeness negotiations with the Rise of Skywalker.

So, it looks like as long as your descendants don't pimp you out, the law is pretty well established, and people can have some control over their likeness after their death.

Now, all society has to do is figure out who owns/controls their DNA. I've read some science fiction e-books recently that make that whole scene look pretty scary. Cloning of celebrities and sports stars, somebody's DNA is discovered to be resistant to a type of cancer - can they force you to donate your DNA? It makes it look dangerous to be exceptional in the future.

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