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Actors Gain Rights and Compensation for the Use of Their Images in Artificial Intelligence Material

Summary

LOS ANGELES, November 9 (Reuters) – In a landmark agreement that ended a 118-day strike, film studios are now required to obtain permission from actors to use their images in material generated by artificial intelligence (AI) and compensate them when […]

Actors Gain Rights and Compensation for the Use of Their Images in Artificial Intelligence Material

LOS ANGELES, November 9 (Reuters) – In a landmark agreement that ended a 118-day strike, film studios are now required to obtain permission from actors to use their images in material generated by artificial intelligence (AI) and compensate them when their digital counterparts appear on screen.

According to Duncan Crabtree-Erland, the chief negotiator for the actors’ union SAG-AFTRA, actors have secured these new protective measures as part of the deal announced late on Wednesday.

Under the three-year contract, actors now have “the right to consent and the right to fair compensation for any form of digital replica or substitution of their persona that is used,” said Crabtree-Erland in a statement to Reuters.

The proposed agreement also establishes a minimum fee for the use of AI, with actors having the option to negotiate for higher payments.

The full details of the new contract will be announced after the SAG-AFTRA national board votes on the proposal on Friday, according to the union. Following that, the agreement will be subject to ratification by union members.

Actors and performers in film and television have expressed concerns that AI poses a threat to their livelihoods, fearing that they will be replaced by digital versions of their own characters or “metahumans” created by AI. Background actors and voices are particularly worried about losing their jobs to synthetic performers.

Crabtree-Erland noted that the proposed agreement also includes protections for the use of generative AI in creating synthetic actors. While he did not provide specific details, he mentioned that there are important consent and compensation safeguards in relation to this type of usage.

The technology of AI is already being utilized to eliminate age lines or replace portions of dialogue, raising concerns that studios may put words in an actor’s mouth without their approval.

This issue has sparked significant disagreement between SAG-AFTRA, the union representing around 160,000 actors, stunt performers, voice artists, and other performers, and has been one of the last topics to be resolved, according to Crabtree-Erland.

“Thanks to the recent changes, we have finally reached a point where we can ensure that our members have protection,” Crabtree-Erland said. “These protections will evolve alongside the technology.”

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the group that negotiated on behalf of companies such as Walt Disney, Warner Bros Discovery, Netflix, and other major studios, stated that the agreement provides “comprehensive consent and compensation measures in the use of artificial intelligence.”

Hollywood’s technology company executives have stated that studios have been cautious, waiting for the industry to establish guidelines for the use of AI before fully exploring its potential.

“They are extremely cautious,” said Scott Mena, Co-CEO and founder of Flawless, a company that utilizes AI for film synchronization and editing. “But they recognize that there are immense benefits and that this can be incredibly powerful for the industry.”

Screenwriters have also gained protections regarding the use of AI following a five-month strike by the Writers Guild of America earlier this year. Among these provisions is the requirement for studios to disclose if any materials were generated using artificial intelligence.

Reporting by Don Kmielowski and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Editing by Mary Milliken and Bill Berkrot.

FAQ

1. What rights have actors gained in relation to the use of their images in AI-generated material?

Actors now have the right to consent to the use of their images in AI-generated material and the right to fair compensation for any digital replicas or substitutions of their persona that are utilized.

2. Will actors be financially compensated for the use of AI in film productions?

Yes, the agreement establishes a minimum fee for the use of AI, and actors have the option to negotiate for higher payments.

3. How will the new contract be finalized?

The full details of the new contract will be announced after the SAG-AFTRA national board votes on the proposal. Following that, the agreement will be subject to ratification by union members.

4. Why are actors concerned about the use of AI in the industry?

Actors and performers fear that AI poses a threat to their livelihoods, as they may be replaced by digital versions of their characters or synthetic performers created by AI.

5. What protections are in place for the use of generative AI in creating synthetic actors?

While specific details were not provided, the proposed agreement includes important consent and compensation safeguards for the use of generative AI in creating synthetic actors.