In the face of AI and evolving viewership, the recent Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) strike was a watershed moment…not only for the entertainment industry, but for work across a number of industries.
Let’s dive into the key points.
The WGA strike brought to light critical issues faced by writers in the digital age. With streaming becoming ubiquitous, the priority with the union became attaching compensation to the success of streaming shows, which they largely did. There were also agreements made around screenwriter minimums, residuals and pay increases.
One of the most noteworthy aspects of the recent agreement is the provisions related to AI technology. With AI rapidly changing the landscape of content creation, the WGA secured important protections against AI-generated content taking over the role of human writers.
The settlement states that under the new agreement, writers can still use AI as a tool if their employers allow it. However, they cannot be compelled to use it, and companies must disclose if any AI-generated material is used during the writing process. This ensures that writers retain creative control and recognition in an era where AI plays an increasingly significant role in content production.
The settlement appears to take a defensive position legally. That is, from the position of the studios – ‘AI is not allowed, but we can’t stop the writers from using it.’
This defensive position won’t stop lawsuits from happening. In fact, I think it creates an initial position in regards to this burgeoning technology with lawsuits continuing to draw further lines and rules. One important suit coming up involves a trade group of prominent US writers including John Grisham and George R.R. Martin. They’re suing ChatGPT for violating their copyrights. I would expect more suits like this as well as revisions of the writer’s agreement (this agreement was for 3 years) over time as we navigate the technology.
Overall though, I believe that this settlement (in regard to AI) strikes a fair initial balance by acknowledging AI’s effectiveness while preserving the creative input of human writers. It’s a positive step toward embracing technology without sacrificing the essence of storytelling.
It’s important to note that while the WGA strike has reached an agreement, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strike is still ongoing. Moreover, other industries where writing is importing will no doubt be affected by this agreement. I believe that this agreement will play a positive role in settle the initial groundwork for these industries as well as the future of work for many.