The AI issue in the SAG-AFTRA strike may have finally been settled
On November 1, when hopes in Hollywood were still high that the studios and the Screen Actors Guild could finally come to an agreement, Ankler’s “Strikegeist” newsletter ran with this headline: “AI Proves Knotty but Deal still possible this week.” One full week of negotiations later, AI is still reporting on what’s going on. On Monday afternoon, the SAG-AFTRA bargaining committee sent a message to its members saying they had responded to what the AMPTP described as their “last, best and final offer,” noting near that there are “several essentials that we will still be on. that there is no agreement, including AI.” But on Tuesday evening, Different reported that the studios had changed the language of AI in their latest offer, and with negotiations resuming on Tuesday, there was hope that the concession would be enough to end the strike.
According to several sources spoken to The Hollywood Reporter, the disagreement comes down to AI scans of higher-paid players – those who earn more than society’s minimum – and receiving permission in addition to compensation for those scans reuse. The current AMPTP recommendation is, accordingly THR, would allow studios to reuse scans of dead actors without permission from their estates or SAG-AFTRA.
One union source spoke to THR suggested that this might be enough to convince higher-paid actors to stay in the fight: “They need to understand that this is about protection them. This is their strike now when they realize what’s on the line.” At least one high-profile actor –Jeffrey Wright, in the Oscar mix this year for American fiction– seems to agree:
As a still developing technology that is not fully understood, AI has often emerged as a major point of contention for strike actors. In a recent interview, Successand Sarah Snook she said she hopes SAG-AFTRA can set a precedent for other industries, and continued, “Imagine a company with your image, your voice, creating propaganda. There are no words to express how important this moment is to serve.”
AI was a key factor in the WGA strike negotiations as well, but its use for writers is very different than for actors. The final agreement stated that AI could not be used to rewrite scripts, and that writers could not be asked to use the technology for their work. An AI script, however, is a very different thing than the digital resurrection of a dead celebrity – perhaps one of the many reasons why there is still no agreement.