During the pandemic, it felt like Zoom came from nowhere and suddenly dominated the world.

People were Zooming with each other in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Then, as the pandemic decreased, convenience had already taken over and Zoom stayed.

In Hollywood, it was no different.

Every pitch, every general meeting, and many writers' rooms have been conducted on Zoom since early 2020.

Even as we started to go "back to work," Zoom has been the primary way I meet new executives, guest on podcasts, and pitch my own material.

In those meetings, I'm usually talking about a lot of proprietary stuff. Ideas I don't necessarily want out in the public. They could be IPs I want to generate or original ideas I am pursuing, or even take on properties those execs bought to me.

My voice in them is special and unique. And I think your voice and ideas are too.

This is why it is horrifying to know Zoom might be copying calls from everyone everywhere so that they can train AI.

Let's unpack this idea.

Zoom's New Updated Terms Allow Them to Record Your Calls

When you use Zoom, you are using a service that broadcasts audio and video over the web in what's supposed to be a private room.

But in their new Terms of Service, they have people worried about what happens to that audio and video.

It seems like Zoom is trying to say they own everything that happens inside their app and have the right to use all your video and audio in any way they see improves Zoom.

The specific clauses that are so worrisome are below.

Clause 10.2 of the new terms states:

"Service Generated Data; Consent to Use. Customer Content does not include any telemetry data, product usage data, diagnostic data, and similar content or data that Zoom collects or generates in connection with your or your End Users’ use of the Services or Software (“Service Generated Data”). As between you and Zoom, all right, title, and interest in and to Service Generated Data, and all Proprietary Rights therein, belong to and are retained solely by Zoom. You agree that Zoom compiles and may compile Service Generated Data based on Customer Content and use of the Services and Software. You consent to Zoom’s access, use, collection, creation, modification, distribution, processing, sharing, maintenance, and storage of Service Generated Data for any purpose, to the extent and in the manner permitted under applicable Law, including for the purpose of product and service development, marketing, analytics, quality assurance, machine learning or artificial intelligence (including for the purposes of training and tuning of algorithms and models), training, testing, improvement of the Services, Software, or Zoom’s other products, services, and software, or any combination thereof, and as otherwise provided in this Agreement."

If you think that's bad, the 10.4 clause states:

You agree to grant and hereby grant Zoom a perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license and all other rights required or necessary to redistribute, publish, import, access, use, store, transmit, review, disclose, preserve, extract, modify, reproduce, share, use, display, copy, distribute, translate, transcribe, create derivative works, and process Customer Content and to perform all acts with respect to the Customer Content, including AI and ML training and testing.

So what do these mean?

Not only would that give Zoom access to what happens in writers' rooms, generals, pitches, and even in podcasts you record, but it would also translate into them using that information elsewhere.

According to Stack Diary, "This effectively allows Zoom to train its AI on customer content without providing an opt-out option, a decision that is likely to spark significant debate about user privacy and consent."

How Does this Affect Filmmakers?

A golden robot sits with a child'Bicentennial Man'

Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

This is truly a disturbing and worrisome event that should have every filmmaker that has ever used Zoom up in arms. Not to mention the studios.

No one should be happy with this company recording everything. And definitely not with them training AI on it.

Executives and creatives should be united in this because it messes with both their livelihoods equally.

Imagine doing acting auditions on Zoom just for them to be training AI off your performance? Or taking the beats of your TV pitch without you even knowing it?

Or being someone who is trying to bring in big IP just to have an algorithm blast it all over the world?

Zoom has been incredibly important to Hollywood since the pandemic and was increasing its importance thanks to helping make Hollywood accessible for people who don't live here.

Dedicating that tool to replacing people here should immediately make it null and void within this industry.

What Does Zoom Have To Say For Itself?

Zoom AI trainingBehind the scenes with Steven Spielberg on 'A.I.: Artificial Intelligence'

Credit: Amblin

As people started freaking out, Zoom sent a tweet with their official comment.

The tweet says, "As part of our commitment to transparency and user control, we are providing clarity on our approach to two essential aspects of our services: Zoom’s AI features and customer content sharing for product improvement purposes. Our goal is to enable Zoom account owners and administrators to have control over these features and decisions, and we’re here to shed light on how we do that."

In a blog linked to the tweet, Zoom said, "For AI, we do not use audio, video, or chat content for training our models without customer consent."

So Zoom's stance is that they will have an opt-out for this service, but why should it come to that? Our calls should not exist to train AI.

How Do I Opt Out of Training AI?

zoom training ai'Terminator 2'

Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

I found this useful breakdown on Gizmodo on how to keep Zoom from using your info to train AI.

The basic gist is that you need to opt out of Zoom IQ, which is a feature it introduced earlier in the year.

If you're in a call with Zoom IQ enabled, the other call participants will get a pop up which says, “The account owner may allow Zoom to access and use your inputs and AI-generated content for the purpose of providing the feature and for Zoom IQ product improvement, including model training.”

If you don't want to train AI you can either leave the meeting or give consent to stay, there is no version where you can stay in the meeting and also not have AI take what's said in it for training.

Which sucks!

Guess I have to look into Skype and other alternatives moving on.

This should be all the information you need to opt out and to know what's happening now, but we will keep you updated.

For now, be wary of Zoom. And let me know if you find other alternatives that do not train AI or force you into meetings where it happens.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

Source: Stack Diary