SAG-AFTRA and WGA members and supporters participate in picket line in support of SAG-AFTRA and WGA's walkout at Netflix Studios on July 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

AMPTP says it has accepted SAG-AFTRA’s request for informed consent on the use of AI

The group negotiating on behalf of the studios released a point-by-point response to SAG-AFTRA on Friday, claiming the union walked away from a deal with more than $1 billion in additional wages, residuals, and pension and health care contributions.

The Alliance of Film and TV Producers also said it had agreed to the unions’ request for informed consent on the use of artificial intelligence, which has become a major issue in the week-long strike.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the union’s chief negotiator, said on July 13 that the studios want to scan actors in the background and replicate their likenesses for the rest of eternity without consensus. The AMPTP has categorically stated that it is false and that its proposal includes both consent and compensation.

SAG-AFTRA is not seeking to ban AI outright, as some high-profile members will profit from licensing their likeness rights. But the union insists artists must give informed consent and that the right to use AI on additional projects must be negotiated separately.

Crabtree-Ireland said the studio’s stance was unacceptable because it would allow background actors to surrender their likeness rights to future projects upon initial hire, when they wouldn’t know how to use their image and would have no meaningful opportunity to decline.

This is not true consensus. This is a fictitious consensus, Crabtree-Ireland said on a Zoom call with SAG-AFTRA members on Tuesday. Self you want to get hired and you have to grant permission to use your digital replica for eternity, your choice is to take the job and agree to those terms, or decline the job and not get hired. This is a dilemma that is not fair to our members.

But in its statement on Friday, the AMPTP said it accepted informed consent, including the separate contracting for AI for background actors, which must happen at the point of use. The AMPTP said it verbally communicated the agreement to the union during the July 12 negotiation.

Crabtree-Ireland said in a statement on Friday afternoon that she stands by her earlier characterisation.

We will respond to this latest round of AMPTP spins when we have had a chance to review their paper, he said. We unequivocally support the accuracy of everything we have said about the proposals.

In the document, the study team also explained its opposition to the unions’ proposal for a share of streaming revenue. SAG-AFTRA said members should get 2% of the revenue attributed to each show.

The streamers have refused to release viewership data, so the union is proposing to gauge the value based on estimates from a third-party data company, Parrot Analytics.

The AMPTP said its negotiators had repeatedly voiced their fundamental objections to the idea and called for it to be removed from discussions as it posed a roadblock to getting a deal.

The studio team argued that the production companies that would be obligated to pay actors under the proposal are not the ones receiving streaming revenue.

The union proposes that performers share the rewards of a successful show, without taking any risks, the studio team said. The Union proposes to share the success, but not the failure. This is not sharing.

The AMPTP has argued that an alternative route will be needed to secure a deal. It also noted that it offered a 76% increase in foreign streaming residuals on the largest platforms, in line with the deal ratified by the Directors Guild of America.

The study group went into detail on many other issues, only a few of which appeared in public discourse on the strike.

SAG-AFTRA began picketing studios July 14, joining the Writers Guild of America, which has been on strike since May 2.

There has been no signal from either side of a move to restart talks. SAG-AFTRA’s leadership said it was open to resuming negotiations at any time, but studies said it could take some time.

While we have made some progress, the AMPTP has held us back on many issues, Crabtree-Ireland said in Friday’s statement. On the three key issues we’ve talked about, companies haven’t done what they had to do to treat artists fairly, and we won’t have a deal until they do.

The top three issues are AI, streaming revenue sharing, and increased lows. SAG-AFTRA is asking for increases of 11%, 4% and 4% over the three years of the contract, necessary to keep pace with inflation. The AMPTP offers 5%, 4%, and 3.5%, which he says is historic in every respect and fits ADI terms.

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