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Devastated by the publication of his image on a pornographic site, this founder had the idea of ​​an AI startup

Realizing that a former partner had, without his knowledge, put previously private and intimate videos of them on a porn site, the tech’s founder, Dan Purcell, felt devastated. He decided to find a solution to prevent such violations from happening again. His startup Ceartas has now raised $4.5 million in a funding round from European VC Earlybird, as well as Upside VC, a fund created by The Sidemen, the YouTube influencer group.

Ceartas DMCA was founded in 2021 by Purcell (CEO) and Jonny Smyth (CTO), to apply AI to brand protection and anti-piracy services for content creators and brands.

It does this by deindexing content and automatically issuing legal notices for pirated content.

Leveraging its own proprietary AI platform, the company scans digital platforms to identify and remove unauthorized content, including deepfakes.

The platform claims significant visibility of problematic content on Google of 98%. It also claims to be able to combat deepfakes.

Headquartered in Dublin and Berlin, the company plans to open an office in Los Angeles and has now signed partnerships with platforms such as OnlyFans and Fanfix (a content monetization platform for creators),

In a call, Purcell told me, “I was dating a girl who worked in the tech industry and she asked me if I wanted to do some home videos with her. About four or five years later, they all ended up on the Internet and I was the last one to discover it,” he told me. “My then-girlfriend slid her phone across the counter to me with the videos on the phone. It was pretty horrible.

He looked at services that could help, but most were aimed at large companies rather than creators.

“There was really nothing to help individuals. So being an engineer, I built something myself… Then I’ll have to submit a copyright notice under the DMCA. This is how our creation began in 2020. A year later, the content creator economy was booming and the app took off.

He told me that right now he’s catering to YouTubers and Instagramers, but “as we get into the business, we’ll make it easier to pick up physical goods, such as counterfeit goods. We brought in content creators to build this model, essentially to create a data set.

“Our service is fully automated. It is powered by AI. And when we look at Google’s transparency reports, which I believe were forwarded to you, you can see that (other platforms) have a much lower success rate overall. This can put the content creator in a difficult legal situation, as you can get into trouble for sending wrong DMCA notices.

He added that the company has a provisional patent on the model because it does not rely on any third-party technology.

In addition to working with influencers like Sidemen, they also work with physical goods brands that distribute their content on social media.

The startup chose to work with Earlybird, Purcell said, because it was proactively looking for a company in this area of ​​brand protection. : “We didn’t really go and pitch them, they actually found us. They were researching this topic since 2019. And they couldn’t find anyone who could scale it and monetize it. So when we pitched them, they launched we come back We really felt like these guys understood the problem because they are very technical and data driven.

Andre Retterath, partner at Earlybird Venture Capital, added in a statement: “Across the media and entertainment industry, individuals and businesses are facing unprecedented hacking challenges… Extended Language Model (LLM) training ) of modern AI has also opened the floodgates for usage and diffusion. unauthorized content.

However, Ceartas is not the only player in this space. It has four main competitors in the field of brand protection:

Rulta is a digital content and brand copyright infringement protection platform used by Twitch, OnlyFans, Twitter/X and Patreon, among others. BranditScan is another one that offers similar services.

In B2B brand protection, Barcelona-based Red Points raised $106.6 million, while Vobile, which caters to large film and TV content companies, raised $181.6 million.

All companies that submit DMCA notices, including to Google, are publicly identified and rated for accuracy of removal. This information is part of a public repository called Google Transparency Report, as well as the Lumen database. On Google Web (they don’t remove images), Ceartas is listed as hitting 90-100% of URLs removed.

On Google’s transparency index, Rulta is at 63%, BranditScan at 54%, Red Points at 31% and Vobile at 42%.

These figures suggest that the AI-based approach is likely to take over from older radiation methods in the near future.

Ceartas’ claim is that it automates the delisting process and can quickly identify deepfakes.

Purcell said: “We basically built our own dataset using ML. The AI ​​is aware of the context… The AI ​​will look at the page. It will use things like optical character recognition to look at watermarks, facial recognition… are people leaving derogatory comments or sexualized comments. If it is above 90%, it will automatically send a legal notice. If it’s less than 90%. It is sent to a copyright specialist for manual review… Legal notices are written by lawyers. We work with a law firm in Los Angeles called Morrison Cooper.

The recent funding round also benefits from the support of new investors: Thomas Hesse (former president of Sony Music), Andrej Henkler (10x Founders), Michele Attisani & Niccolo Maisto (Faceit) and Ryan Morrison (Evolved Talent/Morrisson Cooper), among others. from the gaming, content creation, music and television industries.

techcrunch

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