This case is as legally complicated as it is unsettling.
What happens when you cross “Black Mirror,” the uncanny valley, and good ol’ catfishing?
You might get something approaching the case of Yael Cohen Aris, who makes the compelling case that a sex doll company has stolen her likeness without her consent to sell a life-size simulacrum that looks exactly like her — and, until recently, even shared her name.
The Israeli influencer has been aware of this alleged misuse of her likeness since 2019, when a fan sent her to a forum link that showed “prototypes” of a doll head using her first name, Aris told the British talk show “This Morning.” Her actual social media images were also being used without her knowledge to promote the prototype, she added, and then she later found out that it had been put up for sale.
The resemblance between the doll and Aris is indeed uncanny. Along with initially using her name, which was later changed to “Ashley” by the Chinese sex doll company Irontech — though “Yael” is still in the URL of some Irontech links, as noted by Vice — the doll also in some marketing photos wears black-rimmed glasses similar to Aris’, has a similar body type, and even has a birthmark under its lip in the exact same spot as the model.
In a statement given to The Daily Mail, an Irontech spokesperson said that the similarities between Aris and the doll that, until this week, shared her first name, were a “coincidence.”
The influencer, to her credit, said that she isn’t looking to sue Irontech for money but does want the company to stop selling it and explain to her “how things went wrong and why.”
Though the practice of modeling sex dolls after porn stars is common, it’s generally done with the models’ consent and usually incorporated into their marketing. To completely rip off someone’s identity, as Aris is alleging, would likely under American law be considered an infringement of someone’s personality rights — but because this is an international case, it could become messy if taken to courts in either Israel or China.
Aris doesn’t appear interested in suing, but Irontech also doesn’t seem like it wants to stop selling the doll that sure looks a hell of a lot like her. It’s hard to say what the next stage of this bizarre story will bring, but we’ll certainly be interested to see where it goes.
READ MORE: Model Claims She Was Turned Into a Sex Doll Without Her Permission [Motherboard]
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