How the SAG-AFTRA-Studio deal will handle AI scans of dead actors

How the SAG-AFTRA-Studio deal will handle AI scans of dead actors

After the longest actors’ strike in Hollywood history ended earlier this week, SAG-AFTRA released details of its $1 billion deal with Hollywood studios — revealing protections against the use of artificial intelligence in actors’ performances, which will impact the industry for decades. .

The SAG-AFTRA National Council voted Friday to accept the tentative agreement with 86 percent approval. The deal will then go to the union’s 160,000 members in the coming weeks to ratify the agreement.

After the board meeting, SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher discussed details of the new contract at a press conference. According to Drescher, the AI ​​issue was a major deal-breaker between SAG and AMPTP.

“If we don’t get this package, what are we going to do? “We’re not really able to protect our members the way they need to be protected… If we don’t get those barriers, what will it be like in three years?” she said.

Under the agreement, companies must seek approval before making digital replicas of actors and must disclose what the replica will be used for. Actors will also receive compensation for digital replicas.

“They will no longer be able to put a typical clause in a contract that says I will give you all the rights to my digital replica, and you can do whatever you want with me,” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the union’s national executive director. The chief negotiator says Rolling Stone.

The rules also apply to deceased actors. Crabtree-Ireland adds that heirs or beneficiaries must agree first.

There are guidelines on artificial faking, or fake performers based on an actor’s image and likeness, that are used to train generative AI. Crabtree-Ireland says SAG-AFTRA has the right to be notified, and has the right to bargain for fair pay.

In the guild’s initial announcement of the tentative deal on Wednesday, SAG-AFTRA promised it had secured a contract of “extraordinary scope” worth more than $1 billion and “unprecedented consent and compensation provisions that will protect members from the threat of artificial intelligence.” ”

On the same day, the AMPTP issued its own statement, saying the tentative agreement gave “the largest contract gains on contracts in the association’s history,” and included “broad approval and compensation protections in the use of artificial intelligence.”

However, a few days ago, generative AI became the sticking point preventing both parties from reaching an agreement. Last weekend, the movie studios submitted their “last, best and final” offer to the guild, which reviewed and rejected it. It helps There were “several key elements that we have not yet reached agreement on, including artificial intelligence.” the Hollywood Reporter It was later revealed that the AMPTP proposal would require studios to pay to secure AI scans for Schedule F performers, actors who earn more than the minimum rate for regular series and feature films. However, the show’s language would also allow studios to reuse AI scans of deceased performers without the consent of the actor’s estate or SAG-AFTRA.

Some online have referred to the studios’ offer as the “Zombie Clause.” Television writer and producer David Slack He said The “zombie clause” is clearly “reprehensible and hideous,” adding, “It also demonstrates that no SAG-AFTRA member is safe from the greed of the studios.”

In July, AMPTP reportedly wanted to pay background actors a low daily rate to have their AI scans done, opening a path to making all talent “subject to having most of their work replaced by digital replicas,” according to SAG-AFTRA. (In response, AMPTP said SAG-AFTRA “mischaracterized” its AI proposal and claimed it offered protections around digital replicas.)

With the historic 118-day strike drawing to a close – after months of disruption to film and TV production that halted the 2024 release calendar – production could resume as soon as the new year begins.


“It’s a matter of basic respect as well as protecting the careers of actors, that they can choose how their image and likeness is used, and aren’t just beholden to a particular company that made them sign a standard consent form when they were at their lowest point of influence in their career,” Crabtree-Ireland says of the new deal. .

In October, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) also officially ended its strike after ratifying a three-year deal with AI terms it agreed to — agreeing that AI cannot be considered a writer on television and film projects, and AI-generated material is not considered writers. Literary material or custom material. Writers, on the other hand, were given the option to use AI if they wanted to, but they could not be forced to use AI software by the company. The deal also stipulated that if anything was written by AI, the company must notify the writer in advance.

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