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Devastated by his image being posted to a porn site, this founder hit on an AI startup idea | TechCrunch

Tech founder Dan Purcell was heartbroken after realizing that a former partner had, without his knowledge, posted his previously private, intimate videos on a porn site. They pledged to come up with a solution to help prevent such breaches from happening again. His Certas startup has now raised $4.5 million in a seed round from Upside VC, a fund founded by European VC Earlybird as well as YouTube influencer group The Sidemen.

Certas DMCAFounded in 2021 by Purcell (CEO) and Jonny Smith (CTO) to apply AI to brand protection and anti-piracy services for content creators and brands.

It does this by de-indexing the content and automatically issuing legal notices for pirated content.

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

The platform claims to have increased the visibility of problematic content on Google by 98%. It also claims to be able to deal with deepfakes.

Based in Dublin and Berlin, the company plans to open an office in Los Angeles and has now signed partnerships with platforms like OnlyFans and FanFix (a content monetization platform for creators).

On a call, Purcell told me: “I was dating a girl who was in the tech industry, and she asked me if I wanted to make some private videos with her. About four or five years later, they all got on the Internet, and I was the last one to figure it out,” he told me. “My then-girlfriend slid her phone on the counter to me with the video on it. It was terrible.”

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

“There was really nothing there to help individuals. So being an engineer, I built something myself… then it would send a legal copyright notice under the DMCA. So that’s how we started 2020. A year later, the content creator economy was booming and the app took off.”

He told me that right now it’s aimed at YouTubers and Instagramers, but “as we grow into the venture we’ll feature a service to take care of physical goods like counterfeits.” We used content creators to create, essentially, a data set to build that model.

“Our service is completely automated. It is powered by AI. And when we look at the Google transparency report, which I believe was sent to you, you can see [other platforms] Overall success rates are very low. This can put the content creator in a difficult legal situation as you may get into trouble by sending a false DMCA notice.

He said the company has a provisional patent on the model as it does not rely on any third-party technology.

As well as working with influencers like Sidemen, they’re also working with physical goods brands who put their content on social media.

The startup chose to work with EarlyBird because it was actively looking for a company in this brand protection area, Purcell said. : “We didn’t actually go out and pitch them, they actually found us.. They had been researching it since 2019. And they couldn’t find anyone who could scale it and monetize it.. So when We pitched them, so they pitched us back. We really felt like these guys understood the problem, because they’re very technical and data focused.

Andre Retterath, partner at EarlyBird Venture Capital, said in a statement: “In the media and entertainment industry, individuals and enterprises alike are facing unprecedented piracy challenges… The training of modern AI large language models (LLMs) has also “Opened the door to use and dissemination.” Of unauthorized material.

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

Rulta is a platform for protecting digital content and brand copyright violations, used by Twitch, OnlyFans, Twitter/X, and Patreon, among others. BranditScan is another company that offers similar services.

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

All companies that submit DMCA notices, specifically to Google, are publicly identified and scored based on the accuracy of the removal. This information is also part of a public repository called the Google Transparency Report and the Lumen database. On Google Web (they don’t score image removal), Ceartas is listed as a 90 to 100% removed URL.

On Google’s transparency index, Rulta ranks 63%on BranditScan 54%at the red dot 31%and on the wobble 42%,

These numbers suggest that AI-driven approaches are likely to replace older de-listing methods in the near future.

Certas claims that it automates the de-listing process and can instantly identify deepfakes.

Purcell said: “We essentially created our own dataset using ML. AI is contextually aware… AI will navigate to the page. It will use things like optical character recognition to see watermarks, facial recognition… whether people are leaving derogatory comments or sexist comments. If it is above 90%, it will automatically send a legal notice. If it is less than 90%. It goes to a copyright expert for manual review… Legal notices are written by lawyers. We work with a law firm called Morrison Cooper in LA.

The recent funding round also received support from new angels: Thomas Hesse (former Chairman of Sony Music), Andrzej Henkler (10x Founder), Michele Attisani and Niccolo Maisto (Facet), and Ryan Morrison (Evolved Talent/Morrison Cooper), among others. . From the gaming, content creation, music and television sectors.

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