F1 Legend Michael Schumacher’s Family Threatens Lawsuit Over Faked AI Interview
It’s not just fake, AI-generated music collaborations generating headlines this week: now it’s a fake, AI-generated interview with a legendary sports icon. And it has the family of seven-time Formula 1 (F1) racing champion Michael Schumacher seeing red.
German weekly magazine Die Aktuelle recently published a so-called “interview” with Schumacher that was actually generated using artificial intelligence. The front cover featured a photograph of a smiling Schumacher with the headline, “Michael Schumacher, the first interview.”
However, the interview apparently never actually happened—and the revelation reportedly comes at the tail end of the article, cluing readers into the deception.
The fake “interview” was created using Character.AI, a web-based application featuring a neural language model chatbot that can produce human-like text responses. A Schumacher family spokesperson told ESPN that it intends to take legal action against the paper.
Since a severe brain injury in a 2013 skiing accident, Schumacher has remained out of the spotlight, with his family closely guarding his privacy and restricting access to the racing legend. If the lawsuit goes to trial, jurisdiction will be an important factor because Die Aktuelle is a German outlet and is subject to the country’s privacy laws, including the right of personality.
Charles Slamowitz, Managing Attorney at AI & Web3 law firm Slam Legal told Decrypt that likeness issues regarding AI copycats “haven’t really been litigated” yet. However, the family’s argument may ultimately be that the magazine violated Schumacher’s right to publicity by appearing to be “deceptively real, as though it was him.”
German Federal Supreme Court case law protects the right of personality, including the right of publicity. The right of personality covers privacy and publicity and aims to ensure human dignity and privacy; it prevents unauthorized commercial use of identity traits and requires permission to publish personal information.
The use of AI to create convincing yet fabricated content has come under increased scrutiny after the AI-generated song “Heart On My Sleeve”—falsely attributed to stars Drake and The Weeknd—went viral this week.
The song was heard nearly a million times before being pulled from YouTube, Apple Music, and Spotify. A convincing fake AI-generated album from British rock band Oasis also made the rounds online this week.
A Character.AI spokesperson told Decrypt that use of the service is subject to its terms of service and acceptable use policy.
“We petition [for] responsible and ethical use of Character-generated content,” the representative added. “The actions taken by Die Aktuelle raise questions of journalistic integrity.”
Die Aktuelle did not immediately respond to Decrypt’s request for comment.