AI-generated art “Magic Avatars” company sued for biometric theft

Lensa AI, the company behind “Magic Avatars” art and formally known as Prisma Labs, is alleged to have taken users’ facial geometry in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information and Privacy Act (BIPA)

Magic Avatar
Lensa’s Magic Avatars have gone viral on social media. Pictured: Plaintiff Jack Flora

CHICAGO – With Artificial Intelligence-generated portraits widely trending in social media, an Illinois class action lawsuit charges Prisma Labs, the company known for its Lensa smartphone app and AI art, with unlawfully collecting Illinois residents’ biometric data through their “Magic Avatars” AI-generated art. The Lensa app has been downloaded by millions and the “Magic Avatars” function used and shared by everybody from basketball stars to celebrities.

The suit charges that Prisma violated the Illinois Biometric Information and Privacy Act (BIPA) by collecting users’ facial geometry without their permission, using it to train/develop Prisma’s artificial intelligence neural networks, and illegally storing the data. In order to use the “Magic Avatars” feature in the Lensa app, users must give the company access to every photo on their device and upload 10 selfies. Each of those selfies, the lawsuit alleges, then has facial biometrics extracted in order to train the company’s neural networks, allowing the company to make more profitable AI by exploiting millions of users’ unique facial geometry.

Today’s class action lawsuit also highlights concerns from artists that the Lensa-created “magic avatars”—which use the open-source AI model Stable Diffusion that trained on 2.3 billion captioned images from the internet—violate the copyrights of art they have posted online. The suit further alleges that despite Lensa’s Terms of Use mandating a “no nudes” policy, the app would generate nudes from images containing nothing but headshots or fully-clothed images.

“Lensa continues to be one of the most downloaded apps in the country, which is why this lawsuit—and Prisma Labs’ compliance with BIPA—is so urgently needed,” said Mike Kanovitz, a partner at the civil rights law firm Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law. “Prisma Labs has been unlawfully collecting users’ biometric data without their consent. This is in violation of Illinois law, and deeply concerning for anyone who believes in data privacy.”

“The plaintiffs in this lawsuit, and millions of others like them, unwittingly provided their facial biometrics to Prisma Labs when they downloaded the Lensa app,” said Tom Hanson, another attorney at Loevy & Loevy who represents plaintiffs in this suit. “A person’s facial geometry is like their fingerprint: it is an immutable, unique identifier that deserves the highest degree of protection the law can afford.”

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are represented by their attorneys, Mike Kanovitz, Jon Loevy, Tom Hanson, and Jordan Poole of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law.  Loevy & Loevy is one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms and has won more multi-million-dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the country. In October 2022, Mr. Kanovitz and Mr. Loevy won the first BIPA case ever go to trial, Richard Rogers, et al. v. BNSF Railway Company (case #19 C 3083), with a historic jury verdict of $228 million. The case, Jack Flora, Eric Matson, Nathan Stoner, Courtney Owens, and D.J., v. Prisma Labs, Inc., was filed in U.S. Federal Court, Northern District of California, with case number 5:23-cv-00680. A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.

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