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Your next celebrity sighting may come with a wide variety of legal implications—and pixels—attached. Virtual influencers don’t have parents, just digital animators that can make them appear remarkably life-like. Take Lil Miquela, who The New York Times reported had 1.6 million Instagram followers as of June 2019 as well as a devoted fan base on Spotify, some of whom took for granted the erroneous assumption that she was real flesh and blood.

Virtual celebrities are starting to crop up everywhere from advertisements to social media feeds to online customer service queues. And some may even bare an uncanny resemblance to certain movie stars or television personalities.

But while there are certainly some intellectual property (IP) issues raised over how the rights to a digitally created persona are apportioned, the real challenge for the law may lie more with questions surrounding advertising disclosures and what constitutes an infringement of someone’s likeness.

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Frank Ready

Frank Ready is a reporter on the tech desk at ALM Media. He can be reached at [email protected]

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