Model Claims AI Stole Her Face

By: Georgia | Published: Jan 25, 2024

Nassia Matsa, a model, experienced a disturbing incident where her likeness appeared in an advertisement without her consent. Sitting on the tube, she saw an insurance ad featuring a model who looked strikingly similar to her.

Matsa had never worked with this company, yet the model’s features and styling were eerily reminiscent of a shoot she did in 2018. “The model looks just like me … I’ve never done a shoot for this insurance company,” Matsa stated.

Recognizing a Friend in an AI Altered Ad

Matsa revealed to Dazed Digital that months after her initial shock, she encountered another advertisement from the same company. This time, a friend’s face was used, altered in a way that made it slightly distorted and unnatural.

A close-up ai generated portrait of a young woman with wavy, golden-blonde hair. She has fair skin, full lips, and is wearing subtle makeup

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Matsa realized the grim reality: “We had been AI’ed without our permission; our faces and bodies turned into digital dolls,” she said.

The Rise of AI Models in Advertising

AI models are increasingly being used in advertising, often without public awareness. The technology to create these models is becoming more accessible, raising concerns among professional models.

A bustling city scene at an intersection with people crossing the street. Above them is a large, curved digital billboard displaying multiple advertisements, including one for a sports shoe

Source: Tânia Mousinho/Unsplash

Sara Ziff, founder of The Model Alliance, told Dazed Digital, “We’ve been receiving a growing number of calls from models who were being body scanned and then losing the rights to the image of their bodies.”

AI Models: The New Faces of Fashion

The Guardian reports on a Levi’s campaign from 2023 that features an AI-generated model, which is a product of Levi’s collaboration with

This image shows the torso of a man wearing a white t-shirt with a bold red Levi’s logo prominently displayed on the t-shirt. He is also wearing a black backpack and a black watch.

Source: Atharva Tulsi/Unsplash

Levi’s claim that the aim is to create a more inclusive experience, showing diversity in size, skin tone, and age on its e-commerce platform.

Technology in Fashion: A Positive Perspective

Amy Gershkoff Bolles of Levi’s spotlights their innovative strategy, where AI models complement human ones, broadening the spectrum of representation.

A person's hands are visible holding a cup of coffee, with a fashion magazine opened to a black and white photo of a model in a leopard print outfit next to them. The scene is set on a gray surface

Source: Cleo Vermij/Unsplash

“AI-generated models can be used in conjunction with human models to potentially expand the number of models per product,” explained a Levi’s spokesperson to The Guardian.

U.K. Models Facing Unauthorized Image Use

Dazed Digital reveals that in the U.K., models are expressing similar worries about their likenesses being used without their knowledge.

A female model walks confidently down the runway in a striking yellow sleeveless dress with vertical sequin embellishments. She is at the forefront of the photograph, with another model in a blue dress visible in the background on the catwalk

Source: Pixabay/Pexels

Elizabeth Peyton-Jones, founder and CEO of Model’s Trust, said, “We’ve got a lot of concerned messages asking what could be done … there is a feeling of helplessness.” The issue of unauthorized image use is spreading, affecting models’ sense of security and control over their own images.


Digital Twin Creation and Its Implications

Companies like Deep Agency and offer services to create digital twin models using uploaded images, as reported by Dazed Digital.

Two identical female models with curly black hair are shown against a plain background. The model on the left is wearing a simple black tank top, while her mirror image on the right is adorned with a black diagonal strapped garment


For instance, Deep Agency uses uploaded photos to train its AI model, potentially leading to unauthorized use of personal images if they are not deleted by the user.


The Legal Dilemma of Image Ownership

The question of who owns a person’s likeness is legally complex. Models often do not have ownership over their images, regardless of the context in which they were taken.

A procession of models on a fashion show runway, captured during the finale walk. The models are dressed in traditional-inspired attire, with the foremost model wearing a tailored blazer over a white blouse and a large bow tie. Each model is adorned with a headpiece resembling a folded headdress

Source: Raden Prasetya/Unsplash

Dazed Digital notes that in 2019, Emily Ratajkowski faced a lawsuit for posting a picture of herself taken by paparazzi. These legal ambiguities extend to AI, where individuals’ images are used to train and replicate AI models.


Protecting Personal Characteristics in the U.S.

In the United States, the law offers some protection for personal characteristics, including likeness and image.

A large, monochromatic billboard mounted on the side of a building features the high-contrast image of a woman. She is styled with her hair swept back and is wearing sunglasses, a collared shirt, and a belt

Source: Scott Webb/Unsplash

William Wortley, an associate at Bird & Bird, one of the world’s leading law firms regarding intellectual property, told Dazed Digital, “Court will recognize a person’s publicity or image rights.”


Challenges in the U.K. for Protecting Image Rights

In contrast, Dazed Digital reports that the U.K. does not have a stand-alone “image” or “personality” right. Individuals seeking to protect their likeness must explore other legal avenues, such as copyright infringement claims.

A woman with a prominent tattoo on her arm is captured looking off to the side with a contemplative expression. She has wavy black hair, bold pink lipstick, and is dressed in a pink blouse with puffy sleeves and small floral details

Source: Wikimedia Commons

For example, Rihanna successfully sued Topshop for using her image without permission, demonstrating the complexity of protecting personal images in the U.K. legal system.


Generative AI and the Legal System

The legal system is currently struggling with the implications of generative AI on intellectual property and copyright infringements.

A blurred image of a professional woman with her head in her hand, appearing stressed or deep in thought. She sits at a desk with documents spread out in front of her and is holding a pen. In sharp focus in the foreground is a set of golden scales of justice


“Over time, more certainty will hopefully emerge regarding how AI technology can be used,” Wortley told Dazed Digital.


AI's Impact on the Future of Modeling

The modeling industry is facing uncertainty with the advent of AI models. There is a particular concern for the potential replacement of human models, especially those from minority groups.

A group of fashion models walking down a runway in a diverse array of colorful and stylish outfits. The models are sporting various styles, from a green velvet jumpsuit to a blue patterned maxi dress, with some wearing sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats

Source: Armen Aydinyan/Unsplash

However, some industry professionals, like agent Jordan Shiel, view this development optimistically. “I do not see this technology replacing the need for real-life models,” Shiel told Dazed Digital.