Kim Kardashian Deep Fake Video Removed By Copyright Claim

from the not-great dept

We’ve entered something of a moral panic, or at least an impressive uptick in public awareness, around the concept of deep fakes. These videos, edited and manipulated through technology, have managed everything from making the Speaker of the House appear drunk to putting caricature-like words in the mouth of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. On the topic of Facebook, it’s been somewhat interesting to watch various internet sites deviate on exactly how to approach these deep fakes once they are reported. Facebook kept up the Pelosi video and, to its credit, the Zuckerberg video, but added some text to alert viewers that it was faked. Other sites, such as YouTube, have chosen to take certain deep fake videos down.

One of those, as occurred recently, was a deep fake of Kim Kardashian that altered an interview given to Vogue Magazine, such that she appears to be discussing a conspiratorial group called Spectre and giving her own fans a hard time. It’s all fairly parodic and not something that passes the most basic smell test. And, yet, as the discussion rages on as to how sites should respond and handle deep fakes, this particular video was taken down due to a copyright claim.

The Kardashian deepfake, uploaded to YouTube on May 29 by anti-advertising activists Brandalism, was removed because of a copyright claim by publisher Condé Nast. The original video used to make the deepfake came from a video uploaded in April by the publisher’s Vogue magazine.

“It certainly shows how the existing legal infrastructure could help,” Henry Ajder, head of communications and research analysis at Deeptrace, told Digital Trends. “But it seems to be available for the privileged few.”

That should be the absolute least of anyone’s concerns. In one of our previous posts on the topic of deep fakes, a tweet sent out by someone can be summarized as the entire real problem with taking down deep fakes generally and using copyright to do so even more specifically.

As hard as it is generally to come up with an answer to this homework assignment, it is all the more difficult to answer this question with copyright law. Copyright very specifically carves out space for all of the above to make room for fair use, which is why it so boggles the mind that YouTube agreed to take down this Kim Kardashian video in the first place. The entire point of this particular deep fake is far less malicious than the Pelosi video and seems to be completely geared toward humor and parody. Suggesting that moves like this are a problem because they’re only available to the wealthy misses the point: moves like this aren’t legally available to anyone at all, rich or otherwise.

The Kardashian copyright claim has the potential to set a new precedent for when and how these kinds of videos are taken down, he added. It’s a tricky problem, since no one has decided if the manipulated videos fall into the category of fair use. Taking videos like these down open up giant tech companies to accusations that they’re impinging on freedom of expression.

Yeah, exactly. As of this writing, the Kardashian deep fake remains taken down. That is plainly absurd. Meanwhile, YouTube isn’t talking, and apparently nobody has slapped Conde Nast on the wrist yet, either.

None of this is to say that the ability to create deep fakes isn’t a problem, of course. But it sure as hell isn’t a problem that can be easily solved by throwing copyright law at it.

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Companies: conde nast, youtube

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Comments on “Kim Kardashian Deep Fake Video Removed By Copyright Claim”

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27 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

None of this is to say that the ability to create deep fakes isn’t a problem, of course. But it sure as hell isn’t a problem that can be easily solved by throwing copyright law at it.

It appears that if you’re rich and powerful enough, throwing the threat of copyright law at it IS enough to "solve" the problem.

This, of course, raises bigger issues with the DMCA and how it’s handled by online media companies… but we’ve been down that road many many times before.

btr1701 (profile) says:

As of this writing, the Kardashian deep fake remains taken down. That is plainly absurd… moves like this aren’t legally available to anyone at all, rich or otherwise.

Sure they are. There is no right to use YouTube. It’s a private company and can make up any rules it likes. If they want to extend copyright protection beyond what the law requires and ignore fair use, that’s their right. And if they want to extend this interpretation of copyright only to the rich and famous, that’s their right.

Isn’t that what we’ve been learning these past couple of days? Social media platforms are private property and can kick people off and suppress videos and speech FOR ANY REASON THEY FEEL LIKE.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Except in this case it is YouTube following the rules of the DMCA, tale it down when requested, or risk becoming involved in a lawsuit.

But they don’t have to wait for a DMCA notice. They don’t have to take fair use into consideration. They can censor FOR ANY REASON THEY FEEL LIKE.

Over-censoring will not lead to a valid DMCA-related cause of action against them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It’s correct that YouTube is(or should be) entitled to host, or not content at their discretion (baring a few, relatively minor exceptions).
However to say that "It was taken down due to copyright" means "with was taken down using govermental authority/coercion". Which is different than if the copyright holder had of sent them a letter saying "please don’t host this", and they decided to aquiese.

To be more blunt: saying it was taken down due to a copyright claim is saying: "YouTube was given a choice, take the content down, or face potentially crippling liablity". If that doesn’t communicate how that means they do not have/are not excercising editorial discretion in this instance, then I’m not sure we speak the same language

Glenn says:

Election tampering** (because some people really are stupid enough to believe that if they saw it on facebook or twitter, then it must be true)

** "good mechanism" (related to Pelosi [and such] video [which clearly does not apply to Kardashian… because, who cares])

*** so, yeah, maybe it’s just political satire (aka "so, yeah, I lied, so what, I lie about everything to get my way")

Anonymous Coward says:

it is all the more difficult to answer this question with copyright law

Not really. Copyright law has been used for everything from removing criticism of videogames that a developer doesn’t like to forcing extraditions.

The mere mention of copyright law seems to make the brains of judges turn into lukewarm tapioca pudding.

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