The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strike may be over, but concerns over artificial intelligence regulations in the union’s new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) may be over. It gives actors pause.
SAG-AFTRA member states are currently voting to ratify the new agreement, with voting ending on December 5th. Union leadership issued a statement. 18 page overview This is an overview of the current agreement and sets out elements of the agreement, including protections for artificial intelligence. But for some union members, these proposed protections are too vague to provide any real sense of security.
What does the new SAG-AFTRA agreement say about AI?
The preliminary SAG-AFTRA contract embraces AI capabilities as a necessity. After all, Hollywood studios Already done a body scan of background actors. Body scans are among the practices SAG-AFTRA was fighting to curb the 118-day strike and improve regulations.
The agreement outlines two types of digital replicas that studios can create from performers: employment-based digital replicas (EBDR) and independently created digital replicas (ICDR). EBDRs are created “with the physical participation of performers” in a specific project, whereas ICDRs are created from existing materials without the physical involvement of performers. Actors are compensated for the creation and use of these replicas, but the fee varies depending on the type of replica or whether the actor is employed pursuant to Schedule F. This means that you will receive a large lump sum payment for your project.
Both forms of digital replica require the actor’s consent, and the contract stipulates that consent continues after the actor’s death unless otherwise specified. However, there are some exceptions to both the EBDR and ICDR consent regulations. According to a summary of the agreement, consent is not required to use EBDR if the “pictures and soundtracks are substantially as scripted, performed, and recorded,” leaving it to the studio’s discretion. Studios will not require an actor’s consent if he uses ICDR in a project that is “protected by the First Amendment,” including uses such as scholarship, satire or parody, or historical or biographical works. Become.
The agreement also provides for a third type of digital performer: synthetic performers created by Generative AI. These aim to create completely new performers, performers who are unrecognizable and who do not share roles with “natural performers”. If a human actor’s name is used to create a synthetic performer, resulting in recognizable and prominent facial features, the producer must negotiate with the actor and obtain consent.
What are the concerns of those involved with this use of AI?
Several union members have spoken out about the AI terms listed in the contract summary. Among them is filmmaker Justin Bateman, a former SAG-AFTRA board member and negotiator.in X thread (formerly known as Twitter), Bateman expressed concern over the contract’s language.
Among these concerns are the fact that Schedule F actors may not be compensated for the use of EBDR in sequels, and the fact that there is no minimum compensation for the use of ICDR, which means you have to negotiate your own compensation. The consent exceptions are also troublingly vague, allowing studios to decide what is considered “substantially scripted” and what is not. Studios also do not have to obtain consent to adjust certain elements of a performance, such as “lips or other facial or body movements, and/or a performer’s voice in a foreign language.” Even if a digital replica is used without consent, the contract does not state that the studio must change or modify the footage. Actors can only claim monetary damages.
SAG-AFTRA Chairman Fran Drescher pushed back on his critics. Contractual. She labeled them “deniers” and “contrarians” without naming her. Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the union’s chief negotiator, said: Interview variety He said he spoke with Bateman about AI. “Justin is understandably cautious about the future,” he said. variety. But he said AI’s conditions are “the maximum that can be achieved in a 118-day strike.”
But Bateman is not alone in criticizing the proposed SAG-AFTRA agreement. Many members are concerned that they will not be able to read the entire contract before the ratification vote is over. Crabtree Ireland tells Christie Lee Yandri and Kalia Richardson: rolling stoneSAG-AFTRA has never previously completed a memorandum of agreement in time for ratification, but “this time we are working to achieve that,” he said.
Satu Luna, a union member, also said the following. rolling stone What she was worried about at the studio will be ‘resurrected'[ing] Even if the deceased performer did not consent during his or her lifetime, the filmmaker can still request the heir or representative of the deceased performer.
Even the contractual approach to consent gives actors pause. If the actor doesn’t consent to having his likeness reproduced, the studio can simply hire someone else who will consent. So, is it consent or coercion?
“The only people who can say no to replication and get hired are the ones with a lot of influence,” said Shaan Sharma, an acting member of the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee. rolling stone. “This is very concerning to me because most members don’t have the power to say no when they sign a contract.” Will there be protections in place?
Finally, there are major concerns about the potential for synthetic performers to replace actors. (The contract outline states, “The parties recognize the importance of human performance in film and the potential impact on employment.”) Bateman wrote: her thread The presence of synthetic performers in the contract means it feels like SAG-AFTRA is giving studios permission to replace human actors or use non-union actors.
“To me, the inclusion of this clause is an absolute anathema to union contracts.” Bateman wrote.
She also drew attention to the fact that the use of digital doubles could reduce the need for other Hollywood personnel, including members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the Teamsters. Ta.
The last point is especially important. Because while SAG-AFTRA may be the most openly considering AI right now, the use of AI in the workplace is not just his SAG issue. This is a general labor issue, and any new contracts that include terms regarding AI will set a precedent for workers in other industries.