SAG-AFTRA leaders are defending the artificial intelligence terms of their tentative deal with major Hollywood studios in response to criticism from some members that the union did not ensure enough protections for performers.
Both SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland have given interviews this week addressing actors’ concerns. about the proposed new contract – which is currently in the member ratification process after the negotiating committee voted unanimously to recommend it and 86% of the national board approved it. Voting began on Tuesday and will close the first week of December.
Several actors, including some members of the guild’s national board, have openly criticized the so-called memorandum of agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers that ended the 118-day strike, saying it had too many loopholes in key areas. , like AI.
At an event organized on Tuesday by the Washington PostDrescher dismissed critics of the contract as inevitable “naysayers” and reasoned that “you can’t please all the people all the time.”
“We have many reasons to be very proud,” Drescher said during the Post’s Global Women’s Summit. “There will always be detractors who feel that we cannot solve their problem. And our feelings are: let’s put the language on the page. Let’s get everything we can and we’ll be back. But if there is no language on the page, there is nowhere to start building. And that was the feeling of our negotiating committee that approved [the deal].”
On Monday, the guild released an 18-page document. summarizing the tentative agreementwhich states that studios must obtain permission from actors in order to create a “digital replica” of them for a project and then compensate the performer appropriately each time it is used.
In cases where a performer’s employer seeks to create a digital replica of the performer’s voice or image with the intention of using the copy in its place, the employer must first obtain the “clear and conspicuous” consent of the performer. interpreter or performer.
The employer must pay the artist the number of days that would have been required to make scenes with their digital image. And if a digital replica of a background actor is used to portray a main character, the background actor must be compensated for the days he would have worked in person (plus any residual days).
But some actors, including SAG-AFTRA national board member Shaan Sharma, fear companies will refuse to hire artists who don’t consent to digital replication. Sharma told The Times earlier this week that he was among the minority of board members who voted against the deal.
“Consent at the time of employment is not consent,” said Sharma, who have you seen the contract In its whole. “It is coercion. You really have no choice. If you want to work, you have to give them the right to replicate you.”
Dissenters are also concerned that exceptions to the rules laid out in the agreement will be left to the discretion of companies that do not have the best interests of the actors in mind. For example, studios would need consent to use a digital replica of an actor “unless the photograph or soundtrack remains substantially as written, performed and/or recorded,” and employers must explain to the artist how their copy will be used. , in “reasonably specific terms.”
Crabtree-Ireland, who was also SAG-AFTRA’s chief negotiator, responded to some of the negative reactions from members during a virtual panel on the future of AI hosted Wednesday by the Brookings Institution.
“I can guarantee you that we could not have stopped AI, no matter how long we had remained on strike,” Crabtree-Ireland said. “What we did was get really strong protections. And are they perfect? No. There are people who criticize these protections and say, ‘It should be this, ‘It should be that.'”
“In any type of negotiation like this, you have to find a balance,” he added. “We take our influence to the maximum. … I think that influence would not have increased if we had stayed on strike longer, and I think we reached the best possible agreement that could have been reached regarding AI in this negotiation.”
Several guild members have also complained that they have so far been unable to access the full contract (only the summary) during the voting window for ratification.
Union negotiators, however, have noted that it is common practice to provide a summary of the contract to members before finalizing the drafting.
“Partly, this is because the union does not unilaterally decide the final wording of the contract,” Sharma said. “Actually, that is resolved between AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA staff. …So it takes time for our staff and your staff to finalize that text.”
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