The short game on AI goes to the Writers Guild of America, but the studios are playing the long game.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) finally reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on a new three-year Minimum Basic Agreement. On September 26th, the WGA West Board and WGA East Council voted unanimously to recommend the agreement, which now goes before the membership for a ratification vote from October 2nd through October 9th.
Unsurprisingly, the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the writing process held sway as the thorniest issue. The WGA was able to wrangle the following stopgap measures from the AMPTP in the short term…
- AI can’t write or rewrite literary material, and AI-generated material will not be considered source material under the MBA, meaning that AI-generated material can’t be used to undermine a writer’s credit or separate rights.
- A writer can choose to use AI when performing writing services if the company consents and provided that the writer follows applicable company policies, but the company can’t require the writer to use AI software (e.g., ChatGPT) when performing writing services.
- The company must disclose to the writer if any materials given to the writer have been generated by AI or incorporate AI-generated material.
- The WGA reserves the right to assert that exploitation of writers’ material to train AI is prohibited by MBA or other law.
…but the studios have their eye on the long game: a future in which writers are perhaps no longer needed. With that in mind, the WGA’s new MBA is a “win-win”: it buys their membership a few more years of gainful employment while providing the studios time to get their generative AI ducks in a row.
To wit, an unheralded but significant concession that the WGA made in return for the stopgap measures above is that Hollywood studios can use film and TV scripts that they already own to refine and experiment with A.I. tools.
So, stay tuned a few years from now when The Empire Strikes Back, and you'll be prompting bespoke films and TV series within your brand of choice, writer-free.