“Big Issues in the AI Bucket” Remain Unresolved: SAG-AFTRA

The SAG-AFTRA strike might be coming to an end due to progress made so far, but the union insists there are still big AI issues yet to be resolved, prolonging it.

Since the strike started, SAG-AFTRA, which is the main labor union representing Hollywood actors, has been negotiating with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to end the strike.

The union met with AMPTP over the weekend, and the two parties were scheduled to resume talks on Monday and map out how to proceed to broker a deal.

AI issues on the table

According to Screenrant, SAG-AFTRA is in the final stretch of negotiations to put an end to the actor strike that is now 109 days old. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

In an appearance at the Disney picket lines, SAG-AFTRA executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland indicated he would not “hazard a guess as to when the strike will be over.”

He indicated the strike would end only after some sticky issues had been resolved.

“I think it depends on the mindset that everybody brings to the table this week,” he said.

“I certainly hope we can move things forward quickly, but there are important issues that are still open, and until they’re done, there’s no deal,” added Crabtree-Ireland.

Despite the sticky issues that have slowed the negotiations, Crabtree-Ireland acknowledged there has been progress made out of the talks held so far.

“There are a number of big issues within the AI bucket that we’re currently working on,” added Crabtree-Ireland, citing the franchise consent issue as one where there has not been progress.

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AI ranks top of the sticky issues

According to a Variety report, AI is among the issues to be resolved. The union wants boundaries around the use of AI technology in the film industry, especially with regards to using and recreating actors’ likeness.

The issues also include consent and the minimum compensation floor for such use.

This is in addition to limiting AI consent to a single project, but the studios “continue to seek consent that would cover multiple projects within the same franchise.”

While the negotiations have dragged on, at some point they took a pause with allegations of bullying on the part of studios. Additionally, reports also suggested the studios were willing to drag the talks to 2024 “if no deal was reached.”

But there’s more on the table

Crabtree-Ireland stressed that progress with the talks was not held up by AI alone.

“There are a lot of issues still open,” he said, adding that “it’s not only AI that’s left on the table.”

“There are other big issues that we are still working on,” added Crabtree-Ireland, but without shedding much light on the “other big issues.”

According to Variety, the union demanded a share of revenue from streaming platforms. Last month, the studios reportedly offered a model fashioned after the Writers Guild of America (WGA), providing a bonus for the most-watched made-for-streaming shows.

While the WGA strike ended on September 27, SAG-AFTRA reportedly asked for more, which would go to actors on every project on a platform.

Crabtree-Ireland said: “From the very beginning, we never called it a success bonus because it wasn’t just about recognizing specific success.”

“It was about sharing revenue that’s been generated in the streaming world. I think whatever version we end up with will be a significant move in that direction,” he added.

According to Screenrant, studios reportedly adjusted their success-based streaming bonuses. They increased the initial minimum rates they offered to 7% from 5%, while SAG-AFTRA shot back with 9%, although lower than their initial proposed 11%.

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