AI Is The Big Sticking Point In The Actors Strike

By Kevin C. Neece | Published


While there has been some seemingly promising movement in the ongoing negotiations regarding the actors’ strike, AI remains the chief point of contention between SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP. According to The Hollywood Reporter, several sources have said that production companies only want to pay actors for scans of their likenesses, but not for using or re-using those scans.

The protections SAG-AFTRA is seeking apply particularly to members who earn higher pay, and who have been specifically singled out by AMPTP regarding how their likenesses can be used, both during their lives and after their deaths.

The Current AMPTP Offer Doesn’t Offer Actors Pay For The Re-Use Of Their Likeness

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As the actors’ strike continues to drag after months of stalled negotiations, the two sides are reportedly in contention over the specific rules proposed by AMPTP in an AI clause that is part of their latest offer. That offer would see Schedule F performers, meaning those who earn the minimum of more than $32,000 for a TV episode or $60,000 for a future film, paid only for the scan of their likeness.

SAG-AFTRA wants to include a stipulation in the new contract that requires companies to pay members for the re-use of their scans and to secure a performer’s consent before such reuse is made.

Estates Have No Control Over The Use Of Deceased Actors’ Scans

Another thing keeping actors on strike is how the proposed AI clause handles the likenesses of deceased performers, allowing companies to use those likenesses without the consent of the performers’ estates or of SAG-AFTRA.

According to one source with knowledge of the union’s negotiations, this could be a disaster for performers who could potentially have their likenesses used to enrich studios without seeing any further compensation for such use, and with their estates and the union given no control over how their likenesses are used after death. This threatens performers at every level of the industry and is a major point on which the union is unwilling to budge, even though the AMPTP has called this their “last, best, and final” offer.

The SAG-AFTRA Submits Their Counteroffer

With the actors’ strike still ongoing despite the latest offer, the weekend saw SAG-AFTRA working up a counteroffer that has been delivered to the AMPTP, with a meeting scheduled for Monday between chief negotiators Carol Lombardi of AMPTP and Duncan Crabtree-Ireland of SAG-AFTRA.

The Counteroffer Demands Language Regarding AI Rules Be Removed

The counteroffer from the actors’ union reportedly removes the language regarding AI rules for Schedule F performers and changes some other items that are not related to compensation. A union source says these changes are “not just reasonable” but “absolutely vital” and that the proposal sent by the AMPTP would give production companies a “loophole to exploit performers.”

Is The Actors’ Strike Nearing Its End?

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SAG-AFTRA addressed the state of the actors’ strike on Monday afternoon in a statement to members relaying that it had responded to AMPTP’s offer with a counteroffer. In the statement, the union said that all of the members of its negotiating committee are dedicated to ensuring that the strike comes to a responsible end with the right deal. The union further stated that several points were still in contention, including AI, and that they will continue sharing information with members as negotiations proceed.