Senator Leyva: We Must Ban Digital Sex Scenes Without Consent of Performers

SB 564 Protects Performers from Deepfakes, Last Minute Nudity Riders

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

SACRAMENTO – After reviewing the impact on victims of both deepfakes technology and nudity contractual agreements forced and then agreed upon under duress, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that tackles important issues that can be extremely damaging to a person’s life, career, public perception and even mental health.

SB 564 specifically establishes clear parameters of written consent in order to depict an individual as performing in the nude or engaging in sexual activity.  The measure will also provide victims of nonconsensual, digitally produced sexually explicit material a civil cause of action to sue for economic, reputational and emotional harm.

“SB 564 empowers performers to be given a real and actual ability to consent to the use of their images in digital sex scenes and nude performances,” Senator Leyva stated.  “When fake porn scenes are created digitally, or even when a person is pushed to sign a nudity rider on set, a person’s life can be forever hurt because of those horrible actions. This bill will help to end this exploitation and provide important protections and remedies for performers.  Just as California has continued to lead the way in protecting survivors of sexual harassment and assault, SB 564 takes an important step forward to pursue unscrupulous people that hurt performers, particularly women, in our state.”

First, as it is a serious decision for any performer to do a nude scene, any digitally created sexually explicit material should be carefully scripted and agreed upon in advance.  It is inappropriate to ask a performer last minute to sign a nudity rider on set, away from an authorized personal representative or their labor union.  These last minute riders remain a problem in the entertainment industry and any applicable law should legally prohibit them unless certain safeguards are satisfied. 

Second, new technologies—such as deepfakes—allow content creators to manipulate images to depict individuals as engaging in sexual activity or performing in the nude without their consent or participation.  As reported by the Washington Post and many other news outlets, individuals (mostly women) are being harassed or exploited online with these videos. Internet users can use a publicly available artificial intelligence algorithm to transform still images of a person into live action performances by realistically inserting his or her face onto the body of a porn performer.

As sponsor of SB 564, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) continues to fight to protect victims from these damaging situations that hurt the lives and livelihoods of performers across California and the country.

“SAG-AFTRA applauds the California Senate Judiciary Committee for voting in favor of SB 564, legislation that bans nonconsensual digitized sex scenes and nude performances and provides a framework for obtaining consent. Senator Connie Leyva is getting out ahead of artificial intelligence technologies that violate one’s sexual privacy and personal autonomy. This bill for the digital era stands to shield Californians from humiliation, harassment and the potential of having their reputations tarnished with false depictions,” noted SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris.

SB 564 is supported by the Association of Talent Agents, California Conference Board of the Amalgamated Transit Union, California Conference of Machinists, California IATSE Council, California Labor Federation, California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, Engineers and Scientists of California, IFPTE Local 20, AFL-CIO, Entertainment Union Coalition, Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific, Professional and Technical Engineers, IFPTE Local 21, AFL-CIO, UNITE-HERE, AFL-CIO and Utility Workers of America and U.C. Berkeley School of Law Professor Erwin Chemerinsky.