On Thursday, leaders at the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists announced that the group was going on strike after negotiations with Hollywood studios fell apart. According to the Alliance of Motion Picture of Television Producers, the rejected deal included a “groundbreaking AI proposal” that would “protect performers’ digital likenesses.” The AMPTP said the AI deal would require a performers consent for the “creation and use of digital replicas or for digital alterations of a performance.” SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland suggested during a press conference that the proposal was just the opposite.
Crabtree-Ireland described the would-be AI proposal as a backdoor means for studios to gain perpetual rights to an actor’s likeness. “In that ‘groundbreaking AI proposal,’ they propose that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get paid for one day’s pay, and the company should own that scan, their image, their likeness, and be able to use it for the rest of eternity in any project they want with no consent and no compensation,” the National Executive Director claimed in response to a question about the negotiations. “So, if you think that’s a groundbreaking proposal, I suggest you think again.”
Although the studios AI proposal isn’t the sole reason that the union voted to strike, its a good example of the kind of industry changes SAG-AFTRA hope to address with the strike. In recent years, studios have used technology to , and at times . How the industry handles the rights to a performer’s likeness could very well develop into a key issue in the near future.
“Actors deserve a contract that reflects the changes that have taken place in the industry,” Crabtree-Ireland said at the press conference announcing the strike. “The current model devalues our members and affects their ability to make ends meet.”
Either way, the strike itself is making history. SAG-AFTRA members will be joining the Writers Guild of America in striking. The two groups have not held a strike at the same time since the 1960s.