Hollywood writer’s strike ends with first-ever AI protection for writers
The leadership of the Writers Guild of America voted on Tuesday to officially end the Hollywood writer’s strike on September 27 at 12:01 AM Pacific Time. Axios reports more than 11,500 writers may now return to work, resuming production of most live talk shows in the coming days. More importantly, it resulted in the world’s first AI protection for professional writers.
ChatGPT is the first generative AI program to captivate the world by generating text. In response, writers feared for their livelihoods as this machine might take over their jobs in a few months. Fortunately, the 11,500 WGA writers stood their ground and secured AI protections for their careers. Your job may soon require such conditions, so you should pay close attention.
This article will discuss the first-ever contractual agreement protecting writers from artificial intelligence. Later, I will elaborate on the now-ended writer’s strike.
What were the AI protections for writers?
Axios reported WGA leaders sent a letter to their members regarding negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP). The message said the WGA negotiating committee and its east and west division leaders have voted “unanimously” to approve the new writer agreement.
The news website says they haven’t finalized the deal. From October 2 to 9, WGA members will vote to ratify the agreement. However, the most interesting part is its first-ever AI protection terms. Here are the artificial intelligence conditions shared by VentureBeat:
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 content.
The WGA reserves the right to assert that exploitation of writers’ material to train AI is prohibited by MBA or other law.
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These will become more prevalent in future work contracts as more companies use artificial intelligence. Soon, industries outside writing will require such conditions.
Inquirer Tech focuses on digital trends, so I did not include non-AI-related terms. Head to wgacontract2023.org for more details regarding the agreement.
Why did the WGA writers go on strike?
The protest started in July 2023, when the Screen-Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG- AFTRA) failed to sign a new contract. Their disagreement drew attention to their other issues.
For example, actors allegedly struggled to earn a living wage due to inflation and inadequate pay. More importantly, Hollywood reportedly proposed scanning actors’ likenesses to include them in future films and shows.
On July 13, 2023, SAG chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland received the AI proposal, which flabbergasted her and fellow protestors. Then, her statement appeared on Twitter the next day:
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“The groundbreaking AI proposal that they gave us yesterday…they proposed that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get paid for one day’s pay, and their company should own that scan, their image, their likeness, and to be able to use it for the rest of eternity in any project they want, with no consent and no compensation.”
SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher delivered a rousing speech to announce the actor-writer strike. “We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us,” Drescher stated.
“I cannot believe it, quite frankly. How far apart we are on so many things. How they plead poverty, that they’re losing money left and right while giving hundreds and millions of dollars to their CEOs. It is disgusting. Shame on them. They stand on the wrong side of history at this very moment.”
The Hollywood actor-writer strike produced the world’s first AI protection terms for writers. They forbid the use of artificial intelligence systems to generate content.
AI-generated text can’t function as source material either, so AI-made content cannot undermine a writer’s separate rights or credit. Also, it forbids using their work to train AI.
The writing profession might be the first to have AI protection, but other industries will follow suit as AI becomes more prominent worldwide. Learn more about the latest digital tips and trends at Inquirer Tech.