March 3, 2024
Hollywood writers' strike ends with first-ever protections against AI


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One of the two major unions now striking in the film industry, the Writers Guild of America (WGA), has reached an agreement with the organization representing major studios, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), and its leadership has voted to end the writers’ strike as of Wednesday, September 27, 2023148 days after it began.

Among the concessions won by the writers are what writer and stand-up comic Adam Conover called “strong limitations on A.I.” in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

The WGA Contract 2023 website established by the union includes a summary of the new agreement, with the AI provisions under point 5 reading as follows:

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We have established regulations for the use of artificial intelligence (“AI”) on MBA-covered projects in the following ways:

AI can’t write or rewrite literary material, and AI-generated material will not be considered source material under the MBA, meaning that AI-generated material can’t be used to undermine a writer’s credit or separated rights.

A writer can choose to use AI when performing writing services, if the company consents and provided that the writer follows applicable company policies, but the company can’t require the writer to use AI software (e.g., ChatGPT) when performing writing services.

The Company must disclose to the writer if any materials given to the writer have been generated by AI or incorporate AI-generated material.

The WGA reserves the right to assert that exploitation of writers’ material to train AI is prohibited by MBA or other law.

Overall, the prohibitions seem flexible enough to enable AI to be used when writing screenplays, but only under the control and volition of a human writer — though it remains to be seen in practice whether studios will privilege and elect to hire only those writers who are most receptive toward using AI.

Now it’s up to the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) to settle its strike with the studios and establish its own principles around AI and 3D scanning. VentureBeat published a deep dive report on the technology’s history, present, and future outlook in Hollywood that you can read here.

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