US actors’ union makes deal with Hollywood studios with commitments regarding AI

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The American actors’ union SAG-AFTRA has reached a tentative deal with Hollywood studios to end the actors’ strike. Commitments have been made regarding, among other things, the use of AI to create digital replicas and royalties for streaming services.

According to the deal studios must ask permission from actors before creating digital replicas of them, or from next of kin in the case of actors who have died. They must also announce what exactly those replicas will be used for. Studios are therefore not allowed to use a digital replica unless explicit permission has been given for this per project. In addition, actors or their surviving relatives receive compensation for both the making and use of these replicas. These commitments also apply to background actors, according to CNN.

In addition, members receive a bonus if their work ends up on streaming services, although that bonus is much smaller than the original requirement. SAG-AFTRA initially wanted that actors received a percentage of the streaming revenue, but studios did not agree to that. That is why a ‘participation bonus’ has been agreed totaling approximately $40 million per year. This will give actors from the ‘most successful shows’ 75 percent of their current streaming royalties as a bonus, but that is according to the union ‘just a pittance’ of what the shows on streaming services are worth.

After a 118-day strike, SAG-AFTRA’s board approved the tentative agreement this week in an 86 percent vote. Before this deal is officially ratified, the union’s 160,000 members will have the opportunity to vote on it starting next Tuesday. It should become clear on December 5 whether the union members also support the agreement. The agreed contract is valid for three years.

Hollywood writers have also gone on strike for months this year, also out of fear of the influence of AI on their work. In October, the Writer’s Guild of America reached a deal with the Hollywood studios. It states, among other things, that ‘AI may not be used to write or rewrite literary material’.

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