WME is using AI technology to combat celebrity deepfakes.

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As artificial intelligence advances, talent agencies are ramping up their defenses to protect Hollywood stars from misleading, manipulated photos or videos that could put their clients at risk.

Generative AI and the rise of “deepfakes” — or videos and photos that misrepresent a person’s image — have led to the widespread proliferation of unauthorized clips that damage celebrity brands and businesses. can deliver

The purpose of these clips is to show famous people saying and doing things they never said or did. For example: fake nudes of a celebrity, or videos created to make them look like a Hollywood star endorsing a product they haven’t actually used. And the problem is expected to grow.

There are now technological tools that use AI to combat this threat, and the entertainment industry has taken a knock.

Talent agency WME has signed a partnership with Loti, a Seattle firm that specializes in software used to flag unauthorized content posted of clients’ likenesses on the Internet. The company, which has 25 employees, then immediately sends requests to online platforms to remove the offending images and videos.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Artificial intelligence is seen as both friend and foe in Hollywood — a tool that can potentially make processes more efficient and inspire new innovations, but also seen as a job killer. Also another way to steal intellectual property.

The need for better protections against AI played a central role in strikes last summer by the Writers Guild of America and the actors’ union SAG-AFTRA. On Tuesday, the nonprofit Artist Rights Alliance posted an open letter to technology companies demanding they stop “devaluing” their work, signed by 200 musicians including Billie Eilish and Elvis Costello. As deepfakes proliferate, agencies are hoping to use AI to stop bad actors online.

“The worst game of whack-a-mole you’re going to play is tackling a deepfake problem without a technology partner to help you,” said Chris Jacquemin, WME partner and head of digital strategy.

Luty co-founder Luke Arrigoni launched the startup about a year and a half ago. He previously ran an artificial intelligence firm called Arricor AI and was a data scientist at Creative Artists Agency, WME’s arch-rival.

Lotti started working with WME about four or five months ago, Aragoni said. WME clients give Lottie a few photos of themselves from different angles. They also record short audio clips which are then used to help identify unauthorized content. Luty’s software searches the web and reports clients about unauthorized images and sends takedown requests to the platforms.

“There’s kind of a growing sense that this is an impossible problem,” Arrigoni said. “It’s almost a saying now where people say, ‘Once it’s on the Internet, it’s on the Internet forever.’ Our entire company dispels this myth.

Arrigoni declined to disclose the financial terms of the partnership or how many WME clients are using Luty’s technology.

Before using Loti’s technology, Jacquemin said, his agency would have to wrestle with the deep fax problem on a much more ad hoc basis. They have to ask web platforms like YouTube and Facebook to remove unauthorized content based on what they see while browsing or what they hear from their clients, whose fans flag doctored content. will

Luty’s technology provides more visibility into the problem. There may be situations where not all unauthorized content will be removed depending on the wishes of the client. But at least the actors will know what’s out there.

Jacquemin said that in 2022, platforms like Meta and Google were already dealing with the removal of billions of ads or ad accounts that violated their fraud policies.

Now, more people in Hollywood are concerned about how new AI models, some of which are partially trained with publicly available data, could potentially exploit copyrighted works. . These technologies can further blur the lines between real and fake.

If harmful counterfeit content is retained for too long, it can harm the client’s business opportunities and commercial credibility.

“They are so realistic that it would be hard for most people to tell the difference,” Arrigoni said.

This is the latest partnership that WME and its parent company Endeavor have entered into with an AI-related company. In January, WME partnered with Chicago-based startup Vermillio to help protect clients from IP theft by detecting when creative AI content uses a client’s likeness or voice.

Endeavor is a minority investor in Speechify, which makes text-to-speech technology. Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel used Speechify’s tool to create a synthetic version of his own voice, giving opening remarks on Endeavor’s earnings call last year. (On Tuesday, Endeavor announced that its largest shareholder, Silver Lake, would take the company private in a deal valued at $13 billion.)

So far, Luty is self-funded, Arrigoni said. He said he put $1 million into the company himself. The firm is currently in the process of raising an undisclosed amount for a seed round.

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