Ever since the first Terminator movie was released, we have seen portrayals of robots taking over the world. Now we are at the beginning of a process by which technology—specifically, artificial intelligence—will enable the disruption of the entertainment and media industries themselves.


Copyright: jdsupra.com – “Artificial Intelligence: Deepfakes in the Entertainment Industry”


From traditional entertainment to gaming, this article explores how deepfake technology has become increasingly convincing and accessible to the public, and how much of an impact the harnessing of that technology will have on the entertainment and media ecosystem.


What is a “Deepfake” and Why Does it Matter?

The term “deepfake” refers to an AI-based technique that synthesizes media. This includes superimposing human features on another person’s body—and/or manipulating sounds—to generate a realistic human experience. Actor Val Kilmer lost his distinctive voice to throat cancer in 2015, but Sonantic’s deepfake technology was recently used to allow Kilmer to “speak.” (The actor’s son was brought to tears upon hearing his father’s “voice” again.)

Deepfakes have also been used to break down linguistic barriers, including by English soccer great David Beckham in his Malaria No More campaign. There, deepfakes enabled Beckham to deliver his message in nine different languages. And sometimes deepfakes are used for downright fun, such as in this art installation, which allows users to take a “surreal” selfie with Salvador Dalí.

Leveraging Deepfakes to Enhance a Talent’s Skillset

Commercial applications of deepfakes currently include both hiring the underlying “deepfake actors,” as well as individuals whose likeness is used as a “wrapper” (i.e., the visage or likeness portrayed in the content) for the underlying performance. Where the so-called wrapper is a famous personality, this may save the underlying talent hours of time that would otherwise need to be spent on set; that burden can be shifted to the deepfake actor instead. Additionally, such technology allows influencers to create personalized messages for hundreds or thousands of individuals without the need to actually record each message.

The foregoing novel applications of this technology do not fundamentally change the nature of talent agreements or acquiring the necessary rights from talent—however, they do introduce new wrinkles that both negotiating parties must consider carefully. For example, control over the use of the talent’s likeness rights is always negotiated in great detail, but it is unlikely that talent releases or agreements generally contemplate the right to use likeness rights as a wrapper to generate a potentially infinite number of lifelike deepfakes. Additionally, morals clauses will require careful drafting to address whether a deepfake performance, potentially one in which the talent had no control, can serve as grounds to trigger termination. Talent unions may also have to consider more specifically how this technology is addressed in future industry negotiations. […]

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