U.S. Film Industry Limits AI Hollywood screenwriters and studios make a deal to end the writers' strike.

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WGA strike participant holding a picket sign

Screenwriters and movie studios reached a landmark agreement that restricts uses of AI to produce scripts for television and movies.

What’s new: The Writers Guild of America (WGA) negotiated a new three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), ending a strike that began in May. The contract allows both writers and studios to use AI within certain restrictions.

How it works: WGA members went on strike partly over concern that studios would use AI to replace screenwriters. The contract incorporates many of their demands.

  • Writers hired by studios can use AI tools as writing aids with the studio’s consent. They can't be required to use text generators, but they must follow studio guidelines for using such tools.
  • If a studio asks a writer to refine a model's output, it can’t reduce the writer’s compensation or credit and it must declare that AI created the output. It can't give AI credit for stories or writing. If a studio uses a large language model to generate a story idea or draft and screenwriters turn it into a final script, the studio can’t retain rights to the generated work.
  • Studios can train machine learning models on a writer’s work. (This provision was motivated at least partly by studios’ worry that tech giants like Amazon and Netflix, with whom they compete, are training screenwriting models on existing scripts.)
  • Because generative technology is rapidly developing, the writers' union retains the right to claim studios’ use of future technology violates the agreement.

The actors’ strike continues: In July, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) also went on strike citing similar concerns. Many actors fear that studios will use generated replicas of performers, undercutting their compensation and credits.

  • On Monday, the actors’ union began formal negotiations with the studios.
  • Studio representatives informally proposed allowing studios to use AI-generated likenesses with an actor’s consent. The actors’ union argues that less-renowned performers might be pressured to consent, enabling studios to use their likenesses indefinitely.
  • Some actors have licensed their voices and likenesses to producers (including studios) for digital doubles. The union aims to control this practice.

Why it matters: The writers’ agreement is a landmark deal in a high-profile industry. It could serve as a template not only for actors but also workers in other creative industries including publishing, music, graphics, gaming, and software development.

We’re thinking: Generative AI is making many industries and individuals more productive. The new contract protects writers for three years while leaving space for both writers and studios to experiment with ways to do that in film and television. We hope that this agreement is followed by one that focuses on growing the pie — creating more great movies with less effort — while addressing how to divide the larger pie fairly among writers, studios, and technologists.


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