Industry & Advocacy News
September 28, 2023
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike made headlines as writers took a stand for fair treatment and compensation. When the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) expired on May 2 without a new deal, members voted to strike. For 146 days, negotiations stalled over key issues like residuals for new media. Finally, after nearly five months, the WGA and AMPTP reached a tentative agreement on a new contract. This proposed deal will now go to the WGA membership for a ratification vote between October 2 and October 9.
Generative artificial intelligence in TV and film writing was at the center of the WGA’s negotiations. Just like other writers, WGA members are confronted with the existential problem of how this new and developing technology will impact their writing careers. They wanted to ensure—and were successful in doing so—that writers would not be required to use AI in writing scripts, and that if they were given AI-generated scripts as writing material to start from they would receive full compensation and credit as the writer.
At the start of the strike, as the WGA noted, the AMPTP was unwilling to negotiate on the topic of AI and countered the WGA’s proposal by merely “offering annual meetings to discuss advancements in technology.” We are grateful that the WGA insisted on addressing these issues, and in the end the AMPTP agreed to add a provision to the agreement addressing generative AI. The new section agreed to by the WGA and the AMPTP provides that:
The new agreement recognizes that the technological landscape is ever changing and, as a result, members of the WGA and AMPTP need to expressly reserve their respective rights. The agreement expressly acknowledges “that the legal landscape around the use of [generative AI] is uncertain and rapidly developing and each party is reserving all rights” except as the new AI section provides. The WGA retains the right to assert on behalf of any writer that the exploitation of their literary material to train, inform, or in any other way develop generative AI software or systems is within their reserved rights and is not otherwise permitted under applicable law.
The new agreement also requires that each signatory production company meet with the Writers Guild at least semi-annually (at the Guild’s request) during the term of the current MBA; these meetings would be subject to confidentiality agreements to discuss and review information related to the company’s use and intended use of generative AI in motion picture development and production.
We will continue to support the WGA and to protect the rights of writers of all genres.
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