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Elizabeth Englezos
Griffith University

It is now possible to make a physical replica of a person from their digital data and images – a  signifier that can exist in the same material space as the signified. From digital data and images, 3-D printing and other technologies allow increasingly accurate reproductions of a real person. This person may not wish to be reproduced. However, the law offers minimal remedies unless this signifier is ‘published’ or applied for commercial benefit. The essay considers novel legal issues such as deep fakes and non-consensual pornography, and relevant laws such as privacy, tort and intellectual property law to expose this shortfall in individual legal productions and personal rights. As digital perceptions and online identities become increasingly integral to who we ‘are’, because no legal remedies exist that can address real world signification for private (mis)use. This essay argues that physical laws cannot apply to digital space. It achieves this by applying an updated vision of Baudrillard’s ‘signifier’ and ‘the hyperreal’ to the digital space and considers the limits of individual identity.

My doctoral thesis considers the distinctions between digital and physical space and suggests that law created for the physical world cannot successfullyi apply to the digital space. I build on an updated vision of Baudrillard’s signifier to reflect on the significations that substitute for the physical person both within and outside the digital space. I focus on physical laws which already fail within the digital space and as well as real-world repercussions for law, individual identify and contemporary society.

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