Deepfakes, Pornography and Consent

Date & time
1–2pm Tuesday 12 April 2022

ANU College of Law moot court 

5 Fellows Road, Canberra ACT 2600

Jelena Gligorijević
ANU Law and Philosophy Forum

Part of the ANU Law and Philosophy Forum series

Deepfakes, Pornography and Consent

Join Dr Claire Benn as she presents her work-in-progress on “Deepfakes, Pornography and Consent”


Deepfakes of politicians have prompted outcry about the diminishing trustworthiness of visual depictions, and the threat this poses, including to democracy itself. But while political deepfakes are problematic, this new technique is being used overwhelmingly to create pornography. This gives rise to a puzzle: what, if anything, is wrong with the creation of deepfake pornography? Traditional objections to the creation of pornography have focused on the sexual abuse of those depicted; but this objection fails to apply to deepfake pornography. Of course, other objections are possible: that use and consumption of pornography can harm the viewer or other (non-depicted) individuals. None of these arguments can explain, however, the objection that a depicted person might have to the creation of pornography that utilises images of them.

In this paper, I tackle this issue, proposing that when pornography is of us, our consent is required for its production to be permissible. I demonstrate there are two ways in which an image can be ‘of us’, both of which ground a requirement for consent and apply to deepfakes. Thus, I argue: if a person, their likeness, or their photograph is used to create pornography, their consent is required. Whenever the person depicted does not consent (or in the case a child, can’t consent), that person is wronged by the creation of deepfake pornography and has a claim against its production. I conclude by exploring how this argument can provide a basis for objections to other kinds of images, including political deepfakes.

This is an in-person event. If you are unable to attend in person, but wish to participate, there will also be a Zoom option, with details accessible upon registration.

The ANU Law & Philosophy Forum is an interdisciplinary group focused on issues spanning law and philosophy. Its core purpose is to promote research, discussion, and exchanges on various topics in law and philosophy, covering aspects of both private law and public law, and issues within both legal and political philosophy. The Forum hosts guest speakers, holds workshops, and discusses recent scholarship of note in the field. Meetings are open to all including faculty members and research students from the College of Law and the School of Philosophy, and friends and colleagues of both.


  • Dr Claire Benn »

    Deepfakes, Pornography and Consent

    Dr Claire Benn is a post-doctoral fellow in the Humanising Machine Intelligence Grand Challenge project at the ANU, where she has also been awarded the John Vincent Fellowship. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at the Polonsky Academy of Advanced Study at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. Before that, she was awarded her PhD from the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. Dr Benn’s main areas of expertise are ethics (both normative and applied), and the philosophy of technology.


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