The Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) are set to resume their negotiations on Monday, following a historic strike by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) that recently concluded with a tentative deal. The upcoming discussions between SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP are anticipated to address several critical issues, including the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and fair compensation for creatives in the streaming era. This negotiation comes at a crucial time when the entertainment industry is grappling with the rapid evolution of technology and its impact on traditional contracts and compensations.
- SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP to resume negotiations on Monday, following the recent tentative deal between WGA and AMPTP.
- Major concerns include the use of AI, especially regarding consent and compensation for the creation and use of digital replicas of performers.
- Another significant issue is the creation of a mechanism to benefit creatives from the success of their work on streaming services.
- The WGA's deal with AMPTP included a viewership-based streaming "bonus" for writers, which could potentially serve as a model for SAG-AFTRA.
- Unique issues to SAG-AFTRA also to be addressed, including meal break penalty increases, changes to health and pension contribution caps, and series regular options.
The recent article from The Hollywood Reporter sheds light on the overlapping concerns between SAG-AFTRA and WGA, especially regarding the use of AI and fair compensation for streaming successes. Both unions have shown concerns regarding AI, particularly when it comes to consent and compensation for the creation and use of digital replicas of performers. The AMPTP has addressed some of these issues by instituting a requirement for performers’ consent for the creation and use of digital replicas. However, an agreement on guardrails has not been reached yet.
SAG-AFTRA has not revealed the details of its AI proposal but has criticized the AMPTP for allegedly wanting to use performers' images, likenesses, and performances to train new generative AI systems without consent or compensation. On the other hand, the WGA deal could potentially provide SAG-AFTRA with a template on how to approach future scenarios where companies want to use performances to train AI models. The WGA sought to block companies from training AI on its members' writing, and in its eventual deal, both the WGA and the AMPTP essentially asserted and reserved their rights regarding the technology.
Another major issue for both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA in this negotiation cycle is the creation of a mechanism by which creatives can benefit from the success of their work on streaming services. SAG-AFTRA initially proposed a revenue-sharing plan where casts of streaming projects would get 2 percent of the income their projects bring in, which the AMPTP balked at. The performers union further proposed to use the "content valuation" tool from third-party firm Parrot Analytics to validate revenue generation. Conversely, the WGA sought a new residual formula that would reward popular projects, arguing that companies should be candid and upfront about their program views.
The WGA's eventual solution with the AMPTP was to institute a new viewership-based streaming "bonus" — an additional residual that offers extra compensation to writers on made-for-streaming projects that are viewed by 20 percent or more of a platform’s domestic subscribers in the first 90 days. This could potentially serve as a model for SAG-AFTRA, although it remains to be seen if the union will continue to push for its original plan to use third-party metrics.
Moreover, SAG-AFTRA is also addressing issues like meal break penalty increases, changes to health and pension contribution caps, and series regular options to allow actors to seek other employment during long hiatus periods. These unique issues to SAG-AFTRA highlight the diverse range of concerns within the union's 160,000-plus membership.
The upcoming negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP are crucial for setting a precedent in an industry that is rapidly evolving with the advent of new technologies. The outcomes of these discussions will not only impact the working conditions and compensations for the members of SAG-AFTRA but could also set a benchmark for other unions and industry stakeholders in addressing the challenges posed by the digital era.
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