SAG-AFTRA Says Use Of AI To Simulate Actors’ Performances Must Be Bargained For

If producers use artificial intelligence to simulate an actor’s performance, they’re going to have to bargain for it, SAG-AFTRA said Friday in a statement on the use of AI and digital doubling.

“The terms and conditions involving rights to digitally simulate a performer to create new performances must be bargained with the union,” the guild said in a statement.

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“These rights are mandatory subjects of bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act,” the guild says. “Companies are required to bargain with SAG-AFTRA before attempting to acquire these rights in individual performers’ contracts. To attempt to circumvent SAG-AFTRA and deal directly with the performers on these issues is a clear violation of the NLRA.”

The WGA has staked out a similar position. It its pattern of demands for its upcoming contract talks, which begin Monday, the writers guild seeks to “regulate use of material produced using artificial intelligence or similar technologies.”

“Human creators are the foundation of the creative industries and we must ensure that they are respected and paid for their work,” SAG-AFTRA says. “Governments should not create new copyright or other intellectual property exemptions that allow artificial intelligence developers to exploit creative works, or professional voices and likenesses, without permission or compensation. Trustworthiness and transparency are essential to the success of AI. 

“SAG-AFTRA will continue to prioritize the protection of our member performers against the unauthorized use of their voices, likenesses and performances. We are in frequent contact and actively collaborate with other performers unions around the world on these important issues. We follow the newest developments in AI technology, its uses in the entertainment and media industries, and the evolving legal landscape. We will continue to negotiate and enforce provisions around these technologies and their uses so employers and performers can work collaboratively.”

The guild also noted that its Global Rule One, which requires members to work under its contract on projects shot anywhere in the world, “covers entering into any agreement with an employer to digitally simulate a member’s voice or likeness to create a new performance. As such, members should not assign these rights to any employer who has not executed a basic minimum agreement with the union.”

SAG-AFTRA also urged members to contact the guild if they believe their employers are asking them to surrender AI rights. “The union will investigate and take appropriate steps to protect members based on the specific circumstances,” the guild said.

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