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### Handling AI Scans of Deceased Actors: SAG-AFTRA-Stuart Offer Insights

SAG-AFTRA released details of protections against the use of artificial intelligence on actors’ per…

SAG-AFTRA disclosed specifics of its billion-dollar arrangement with Hollywood studios earlier this year, unveiling safeguards against the utilization of artificial intelligence on actors’ performances that could impact the industry for years to come. This marked the lengthiest writer’s strike in Hollywood’s history.

The proposed agreement received an 86 percent approval from the SAG-AFTRA federal board on Friday. Over the next few weeks, the package will be presented to the union’s 160,000 members for ratification.

Following the board meeting, SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher addressed the press to outline the key points of the new deal. Drescher emphasized that the disagreement between SAG and the AMPTP regarding AI had been largely resolved.

“If we hadn’t secured this package, what would the landscape look like in three years without these protections for our members?” she pondered, underscoring the necessity of safeguarding their interests effectively.

The agreement mandates that companies seek authorization before creating digital replicas of actors and clearly define the intended purpose of such replicas. Furthermore, actors will receive compensation for these digital likenesses.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the union’s regional executive director and lead negotiator, informed Rolling Stone that companies will no longer have the ability to insert a standard clause in contracts granting them unrestricted rights to actors’ digital replicas.

Posthumous actors are also covered by these regulations. According to Crabtree-Ireland, consent from heirs or beneficiaries will be required as a secondary measure.

In the realm of training conceptual AI, guidelines have been established concerning synthetic representations or virtual performers based on an actor’s image and likeness. SAG-AFTRA now holds the right to be informed and negotiate favorable terms in such scenarios.

SAG-AFTRA asserted that it had finalized a deal “of extraordinary value” exceeding $1 billion, featuring “unprecedented provisions for approval and compensation to shield individuals from AI-related risks,” as announced in the initial news release regarding the tentative agreement on Wednesday.

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The tentative agreement encompassed “comprehensive approval and compensation safeguards in the deployment of artificial intelligence,” as per the AMPTP’s official statement released on the same day.

However, the impasse over relational AI had emerged days earlier, impeding the resolution between the two parties. The union received a final offer labeled as the “last, best, and final” proposal from film studios over the weekend. This proposal was reviewed and rejected due to unresolved fundamental issues, notably concerning AI. The Hollywood Reporter later disclosed that the AMPTP’s proposal would necessitate producers to obtain AI-generated images of Schedule F actors, who are performers in line patronage and feature films earning above the minimum wage. Nevertheless, the wording of the proposal would also allow studios to reuse AI-generated images of deceased actors without consent from the actor’s estate or SAG-AFTRA.

Online commentators dubbed the producers’ offer as a “zombie provision.” TV writer and producer David Slack criticized this provision as “clearly distasteful and repulsive,” further stating that “it underscores the vulnerability of every SAG-AFTRA member to the studios’ avarice.”

According to SAG-AFTRA, the AMPTP purportedly sought to compensate historical actors at a reduced standard rate for obtaining AI scans of their likeness in July. This move raised concerns about the potential replacement of traditional talent with digital replicas. In response, the AMPTP refuted SAG-AFTRA’s characterization of its AI proposal and offered safeguards against digital replication.

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After causing disruptions in film and television production, leading to delays in the 2024 release schedule, the protracted 118-day strike is nearing its conclusion, allowing production to resume at the onset of the new year.

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Under the newly approved three-year agreement featuring AI provisions sanctioned in October, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) also announced the end of its strike. AI-generated content is not considered literary or scripted material for TV and film projects. Artists retain the autonomy to utilize AI technology as they see fit, with companies prohibited from enforcing its usage. The agreement further mandates that authors be informed in advance if any content is AI-generated.

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Last modified: February 27, 2024
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