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AMPTP’s Latest Contract Offer’s AI Clause Is a Sticking Point For Actors

Upcoming TV Season At Risk After Alleged “Last, Best & Final” Offer

While there had been some rumors that the SAG-AFTRA strike might be soon resolved, it seems that the AI issue is the sticking point in the ongoing contract negotiations with the AMPTP. With the cut-off for the next television season coming soon, without an offer from the studios that is acceptable to the union, that season may not happen. 

The SAG-AFTRA social media account tweeted this message from its official account on behalf of the SAG-AFTRA Negotiating Team: “This morning, our negotiators formally responded to the AMPTP’s “Last, Best & Final” offer. Please know every member of our TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee is determined to secure the right deal and thereby bring this strike to an end responsibly. There are several essential items on which we still do not have an agreement, including AI. We will keep you informed as events unfold.

In solidarity and gratitude,
Your TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee.”

According to the Hollywood Reporter, one part of the contract that SAG-AFTRA objects to is the AI clause in the allegedly “Last, Best, & Final offer” is one that would allow The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to create AI scans of actors who are part of the Schedule F group of performers, or union members who make more than series regulars. The cutoff is those actors who make $32,000 per episode of a television series or $60,000 per film. Actors would be paid for the scan, but there is no language that would give performers ongoing compensation for the re-use of the scans and would allow the studios to use scans of dead actors without permission from either their heirs, estate or the union. 

David Slack, writer for TV and film, WGA member, and producer, tweeted, “The AMPTP’s “last best final” proposal would allow them to body scan performers making *more than minimum* in TV and features. Performers would get paid once. But studios would be allowed to profit off their AI likenesses without their approval forever — even after they’re dead.”

Slack also points out that this AI clause would have a chilling effect on the entire industry and other types of entertainment industry workers, “But it’s important to note that the AI protections SAG-AFTRA is fighting for won’t just protect their members.

If all these performers were scanned once and then never hired again, that would eliminate thousands of jobs across our industry.”

While the SAG-AFTRA Negotiating Team didn’t give a complete answer, it seems highly unlikely that they would give in on this point. Much like the threat of AI to writers, it is an existential threat to the craft of acting and likely to the entire entertainment industry. What SAG-AFTRA’s next move is not clear, but they have been urging their members to “flood the picket lines.”

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