SAG-AFTRA Deal Demands Protections In AI Advancements

Last week, the Screen Actors Guild–American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) ended their months-long strike

Details into SAG-AFTRA’s new deal with AMPTP reveal the protections actors will have against the use of artificial intelligence.

Last week, the Screen Actors Guild–American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) ended their months-long strike after reaching a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Over the weekend, SAG released details of the agreed AI terms of the deal which require consent and compensation for all actors, regardless of their status, Wired reports.

While the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America reached new deals with AMPTP before SAG-AFTRA, the actors union made substantially further gains in their expansive protections against machine learning and other computer-generated technologies.

“There should be no AI. Only human beings should be used in what we create for public consumption,” SAG board member Anne-Marie Johnson told Variety. “Without staving off AI, everything we achieved is for naught. It’s a waste of time.”

Fellow SAG board member Shaan Sharma is still concerned about the “significant loopholes” in the AI language that left “existential threats to some of our categories of work.” While the deal requires consent and compensation for the use of AI to generate “digital doubles,” it does not prohibit AI or stop studios from training on actors’ performances to create “synthetic” performers.

Only if an AI-generated synthetic character has a recognizable facial feature of a real actor with the actor’s name being used in the prompt to generate that character, does the producer need to get the actor’s consent.

“We didn’t get any meaningful protection there,” Sharma said. “If the replica doesn’t give a clear impression that it’s you, none of the protections apply.”

Along with the limits on artificial intelligence, other takeaways from the new deal include minimum compensation increases of 7% effective immediately, CBS News reports. The pay increase will be followed by a 4% increase on July 1, 2024, and a 3.5% increase on July 1, 2025. Background actors, stand-ins, and photo doubles will receive an 11% increase along with 4% and 3.5% increases over the next two years.

There are new streaming bonuses put into place where actors receive “a success payment,” along with the usual residual payments, if involved in a streaming project that attracts a significant number of viewers. There also must be transparency in the streaming numbers with streaming producers now required to disclose the total number of hours content was streamed both in the U.S. and internationally for each quarter.

A minimum number of background actors has been placed as well as a relocation bonus for workers required to relocate for a series. Performers will receive $5,000 a month for six months — a 200% increase on the previous amount.

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