Of importance to our ongoing research into the public perceptions of, and psychological underpinnings pertaining to Deepfake Pornography production and dissemination (Fido, Rao, & Harper, in prep), the first arrests in Japan have been made in relation to such acts. Deepfaking refers to the use of artificial intelligence to map an image or series of images onto a still or motion picture – allowing one to depict a victim as engaging in a series of false behaviours. Typically, such images depict celebrities engaging in sexual acts, but there is also concern over the use of deepfaking for political gain (Delfino, 2019).
On October 2nd 2020, online publications including The Mainichi and the Japan Gazette reported on the arrests of 21-year-old Takumi Hayashida and 47-year-old Takanobu Otsuki. The pair are alleged to have made approximately $7,600 through the self-publication of around 400 videos since 2019; spanning a number of celebrity victims.
When questioned by the Metropolitan Police (Japan), the pair suggested that their main motivations to engage in such behaviour were to “make money” and to have their skills evaluated by third parties – gaining the acclaim as “deepfake craftsmen” (Mainichi Japan, 2020). Given that there is a growing assumption that image-based sexual offences (including the dissemination of private sexual images and upskirting) are motivated by gendered-biased power and control (see the review within Fido & Harper, 2020), these self-confessions appear to fit into the broader theoretical hypotheses delineated in Harper, Fido, & Petronzi (2019). This is an important distinction to make as we drive forwards to better understand why individuals engage in such behaviour; which could very well help to construct means of treating and preventing future behaviour.
Notably, however, it is important to state that the individuals were arrested for copyright infringement and the defamation of their celebrity victims. Though positive in that such damaging behaviour is being closed down, there is a distinct neglect on the impact of the celebrity victims whose likeness have now been widely spread with no guarantee that any associated images can be taken down completely. Moreover, with a growing number of scholars including deepfaking under the umbrella term of image-based sexual offending, sanctioning such actions under copyright law has the potential to undermine the pervasive and damaging impact. We know from the literature underpinning the dissemination of private sexual images that victims may be impacted through depression, anxiety, and poor self-image (Bates, 2017).
Bates, S. (2017). Revenge porn and mental health: A qualitative analysis of the mental health effects of revenge porn on female survivors. Feminist Criminology, 12, 22–42.
Delfino, R. (2019). Pornographic deepfakes: The case for federal criminalization of revenge porn’s next tragic act. Actual Problems of Economics and Law, 14, 887-938.
Fido, D., & Harper, C. A. (2020). Non-consensual Image-based Sexual Offending: Bridging Legal and Psychological Perspectives. Palgrave: UK.
Fido, D., Rao, J., & Harper, C. A. (in prep). Beliefs about deepfake pornography offences.
Harper, C. A., Fido, D., & Petronzi, D. (2019, June 12). Delineating non-consensual sexual image offending: Towards an empirical approach. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/vpydn
Japan Gazette (October 2, 2020). Adult video creation with “Deep Fake” technology or first arrest. Japan Gazette. Retrieved from: https://japangazette.com/2020/10/02/adult-video-creation-with-deep-fake-technology-or-first-arrest/
Mainichi Japan (October 2, 2020). Japan police arrest 3 men over deepfake porn using faces of celebrities. Mainichi Japan. Retrieved from: https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201002/p2a/00m/0na/027000c