Over the last few days many media outlets have reported that Bruce Willis sold the rights to use his face to Deepcake, a deepfake company. The reports are, however, fake. A spokesperson for Bruce Willis said there was “no partnership or agreement ” with Deepcake. Deepfakes use artificial intelligence (AI) to create astonishingly realistic videos which look and sound like the real thing. The commercial implications are significant.
The technology opens new revenue streams including for those celebrities no longer able to work. Bruce Willis announced his retirement from acting this year after being diagnosed with aphasia which affects speech. Whilst the reports of Bruce Willis selling his face are fake, a deepfake of Bruce Willis was used in a commercial for Megafon, a Russian telecoms company.
As previously predicted, the use of AI is set to explode presenting new opportunities as well as threats if proper protection is not in place. Retired actor James Earl Jones, who played Darth Vader, has had his voice recreated from archive materials. Disney released its latest Star Wars spinoff, Obi-Wan Kenobi, using Respeecher’s AI technology to reproduce Darth Vader’s speech including to make him sound younger.
Concerns have been expressed regarding the commercial implications and the fear that actors may lose jobs as a result of the fact that AI can recreate actors’ voices and images. Equity, the UK actors’ and performers’ Union, launched a campaign called Stop AI Stealing The Show. The truth, however, is AI wont steal the show but rather will open new revenue streams. Understanding the technology and ensuring that contracts are drafted to ensure proper protection and compensation are key. As always, getting the rights right is key.
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