Replica Studios To License AI Digital Replicas Of SAG-AFTRA Actors

Replica Studios To License AI Digital Replicas Of SAG-AFTRA Actors

On Jan. 9, SAG-AFTRA reached an agreement with Replica Studios, an artificial intelligence (AI) voice technology company.

Replica can create and license a digital replica of the actors protected by the SAG-AFTRA under “fair and ethical” conditions under this agreement. Licensed voices can be used in AAA video games and “other interactive media projects” from pre-production to final release.

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is an American trade union representing 150,000 film and TV professionals.

SAG-AFTRA and the use of AI technology

This development met many in shock, given SAG-AFTRA’s initial stand on the use of AI technology. In September 2023, the union members voted to authorize strikes for people in the game industry and also voted 98% in favor of authorizing a strike should negotiations come. President Fran Drescher said that artificial intelligence is putting their members in jeopardy by reducing working opportunities.

However, the negotiations requested protections around AI in areas of transparency, consent, control, and compensation.

Members of the voiceover performer community speak

The contract was approved by affected members of the union’s voiceover performer community even as they explored new opportunities for revenue as provided by AI.

The agreement ensures performer consent and negotiation for users of their digital voice. This therefore requires that they have the opportunity to opt out of its continued use in new works. All this was clearly stated in the established minimum terms and conditions.

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher remarked that the best protection against unauthorized digital simulation of the voices of their members is a SAG-AFTRA contract.

According to him, partnering with Replica Studios is a great example of AI being done right.

Recent developments in AI technology necessitate the importance of protecting the rights of voice talents. This is particularly important as game studios explore efficient ways to create their games.

Ethical talent compensation and consent

SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said that they have achieved fully informed consent and fair compensation as it relates to the use of the voices and performances of SAG-AFTRA members. He states:

“With this agreement, we have achieved fully informed consent and fair compensation when it comes to the use of our members’ voices and performances.”

According to him, the agreement makes it easy for companies to access SAG-AFTRA talents. Accessing these talents will be done in an ethical manner, as it will ensure their consent and compensation for their contribution.

According to Shreyas Nivas, CEO of Replica Studios, they are proud to partner with SAG-AFTRA to introduce an ethical approach to the emerging use of generative AI.

Significantly, new opportunities will open up for world-leading AAA studios. These studios can now access the benefits of Replica’s AI voice technology, knowing fully well that the talent has been fairly compensated for the use of their likeness and recognized.

Additionally, the voice agreement ensures that game developers using the Replica platform are only licensed talent who have given permission for their voice to be used as a training data set. This is opposed to the wild west of AI platforms that make use of unethical data-scraping methods to replicate and synthesize voices without proper permission from the talent.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.