AMPTP says it agreed to SAG-AFTRA’s request for “informed consent” on AI

The group, which negotiates on behalf of the studios, issued a nitpicking response to SAG-AFTRA on Friday, arguing that the union walked away from a deal that included more than $1 billion in additional wages, balance, and pension and healthcare contributions.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers also argued that it had accepted the union’s demand for “informed consent” to the use of artificial intelligence – which had become a key issue during the week-long strike.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the union’s chief negotiator, claimed on July 13 that the studios want to scan background actors and replicate their likenesses “for the rest of eternity” without consent. The AMPTP has firmly stated that this is wrong and that their proposal includes both consent and compensation.

SAG-AFTRA is not attempting to ban AI outright as some high profile members could benefit from having their image rights licensed. But the union insists that artists must give “informed consent” and that the right to use AI on more projects must be negotiated separately.

Crabtree-Ireland has stated that the studios’ position is unacceptable as it would allow background actors to relinquish their imaging rights on future projects at the time of their initial employment if they did not know how their image might be used and had no meaningful way to opt-out.

“That’s not real approval. This is fictitious consent,” Crabtree-Ireland said Tuesday in a Zoom call with SAG-AFTRA members. “If You wish to be hired and must agree to the use of your digital copy forever. You have the choice of accepting the job and accepting these terms, or declining the job and not being hired. This is a dilemma that is not fair to our members.”

But in its Friday statement, AMPTP said it had agreed to informed consent, including separate negotiations for AI for background actors that “must happen at the time of use.” The AMPTP stated that it communicated this agreement verbally to the union during negotiations on July 12.

In the document, the studio group also explained its opposition to the union’s proposal to take a share of the streaming earnings. SAG-AFTRA has said that members should receive 2% of each show’s earnings.

The streamers have refused to give out viewership data, so the union is proposing that the value be based on estimates from an external data company, Parrot Analytics.

The AMPTP said its negotiators had repeatedly expressed their “objections in principle” to the idea and asked for it to be removed from discussions as it presented an “obstacle” to an agreement.

The studio group argued that production companies – who would be required to pay actors under the proposal – are not the ones receiving streaming revenue.

“The Union proposes that artists share the rewards of a successful show without taking the risk,” the studio group said. “The Union proposes to ‘share’ in success, but not in failure. This is not sharing.”

The AMPTP argued that an “alternative route” was needed to reach an agreement. It also noted that it has offered a 76 percent increase in foreign streaming residuals across the largest platforms, in line with the deal ratified by the Directors Guild of America.

The studio group elaborated on many other issues, but only a few figured in the public discourse about the strike.

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

There was no sign of a resumption of talks from either party. SAG-AFTRA leadership has said it is ready to resume negotiations at any time, but the studios have said it could take “a while”.

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