On 11 Apr. 2022, China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) released the typical cases of judicial protection of personality rights after the promulgation of the Civil Code.
A total of nine typical cases were released, including the case of protection of minors’ right to change their names, the case of protection of adopted daughters’ right to engrave their names on adoptive parents’ tombstones, the case of infringement of name rights by online bidding ranking, the case of infringement of personality rights by intelligent algorithmic software, and the case of reputation infringement caused by financial institutions’ failure to verify and correct debtors’ credit records.
Among them, the case regarding infringement of personality rights by intelligent algorithmic software deserves attention.
The case involves an artificial intelligence software called “AI companion”.
The software operated by the defendant used the image of the plaintiff as a natural person without authorization, and created a virtual character as “AI companion” identified by the plaintiff’s name and portrait, and allowed the creation of interactive content with the AI companion through the system.
Upon trial, the Beijing Internet Court held that the defendant’s acts belonged to the use of the overall personality image including the plaintiff’s portrait and name.
Although the specific images and texts were uploaded by third-party users, the product design and application of the algorithms of the defendant actually encouraged and organized the users’ uploading, which directly determined the realization of the core functions of the software.
Accordingly, the court held that the defendant was no longer just a neutral technical service provider, and therefore should be liable for infringement of the plaintiff’s rights to name, portrait and general personality as a content service provider.