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Hollywood celebs are scared of deepfakes. This talent agency will use AI to fight them

Wendy Lee, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Arrigoni said Loti began working with WME about four or five months ago. WME clients give Loti a few photos of themselves from different angles. They also record short audio clips that are then used to help identify unauthorized content. Loti's software searches the web and reports back to the clients about these unauthorized images and sends takedown requests to the platforms.

"There's this kind of growing feeling that this is an impossible problem," Arrigoni said. "There's this almost adage now where people say, 'Once it's on the internet, it's on the internet forever.' Our whole company dispels that myth."

Arrigoni declined to say the financial terms of the partnership or how many WME clients are using Loti's technology.

Prior to using Loti's technology, Jacquemin said, his agency's staff would have to fight the problem of deepfakes on a much more ad-hoc basis. They'd have to ask web platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook, to take down unauthorized materials based on what they saw while browsing or what they heard through their clients, whose fans would flag doctored material.

Loti's technology provides more visibility into the issue. There may be circumstances in which not all unauthorized content will be taken down, depending on the client's wishes. But at least the performers will know what's out there.

Back in 2022, companies such as Meta and Google were already dealing with takedowns of billions of ads or ad accounts that violated their deception policies, Jacquemin said.

Now, more people in Hollywood are concerned about how newer AI models, some of which in part are trained with publicly available data, could potentially use copyrighted works. These technologies could further blur the lines between what's real and fake.

 

If harmful fake content were to be kept up for too long, it could hurt a client's business opportunities and commercial endorsements.

"They're so realistic that it would be hard for most people to know the difference," Arrigoni said.

This is the latest partnership WME and its parent company Endeavor have made with an AI-related company. In January, WME partnered with Chicago-based startup Vermillio to protect clients against IP theft, detecting when generative AI content uses a client's likeness or voice.

Endeavor is a minority investor in Speechify, which makes text-to-speech technology. Endeavor Chief Executive Ari Emanuel used Speechify's tool to create a synthetic version of his voice, which gave the opening remarks on an Endeavor earnings call last year. (On Tuesday, Endeavor announced that its largest shareholder, Silver Lake, will take the company private in a deal valuing it at $13 billion.)

So far, Loti 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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