In Hollywood, studios face new restrictions on the use of AI

The agreement reached between the actors’ union and the studios at the end of the strike in Hollywood provides in particular for the remuneration of actors in the event of use of their digital replicas in a film.

Virtual extras, false “mutant” actors… The American actors’ union welcomes the new restrictions on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) negotiated with Hollywood studios after a long historic strike.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) concluded this week a deal with major studios like Disney and Netflix to end its nearly four-month strike. Its board of directors voted 86% on Friday in favor of ratifying the agreement, which must now be approved by members. The union obtained a 7% minimum wage increase and a new fund of $40 million per year intended to return part of the proceeds from successful productions to actors.

But fears around the use of AI constituted a new key element in these negotiations. The agreement “allows the industry to move forward” in this domain, “it does not block the AI», ured Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, negotiator for SAG-AFTRA, during a press conference on Friday. “But it guarantees the protection of artists. Their right to consent is protected, as well as their right to work and fair remuneration», he rejoiced.

In recent years, AI has allowed studios to bring back deceased stars using lifelike digital replicas, or use computer-generated background silhouettes to reduce the number of extras in movie scenes. fight. Anxious to reduce costs, many producers want to focus on AI. Some began asking actors to submit to “body scanners», often without explaining how and when the images will be used.


From now on, an actor must receive the same salary for the use of his digital replica as he would have earned by performing the same “amount of work“, explained Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. As for the extras, “no digital replica can be used to evade the participation and payment of a second-tier actor“, he added. Studios must obtain consent from an actor or their rights holders for each use of their digital replica. And the contract must provide a “reasonably accurate description» of the way in which this line will be used.

This is the first time that AI technology has been part of the demands of SAG-AFTRA, which renegotiates its contract with studios approximately every three years. For the president of the union, Fran Drescher, it was necessary to take up the subject because “a year is three months in the world of AI“. “So if we hadn’t gotten these safeguards, what would have happened in three years?“, declared the ex-star of the series A Nanny from Hell during a press conference on Friday. “It would have become so far beyond our reach that we would always be chasing something, without ever achieving it.“, she insisted.

Read alsoStrike in Hollywood: AI is “terrifying” for cinema, warns Peter Sarsgaard

Decisive element

Another subject of dispute around AI: the use of “false actors”. Described by the specialist magazine Variety as “mutants» or “Digital Frankenstein», they are made virtually from the different body parts of real actors. “If you use the smile of Brad Pitt and the eyes of Jennifer Aniston both have the right to consent“, defended Duncan Crabtree-Ireland in Variety. According to him, the studios are, here too, now required to obtain authorization from each actor concerned, whose remuneration can be negotiated by SAG-AFTRA.

AI was a “decisive element” in the negotiations, underlined Fran Drescher, affirming that the new regulations also aim to support, beyond the actors, many professions in the entertainment industry. “In a virtual world, there is no longer a need for hair and makeup artists, drivers, set builders.she listed.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland took the opportunity to urge politicians to regulate AI “a priority“. The union, he promised, will advocate for “legislative effortss” and will remain “actively involved» to protect the rights «of any person” as his look.

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