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SAG-AFTRA, WGA, Other Unions Praise New York State Bills Aimed At The Tech – Deadline

August 21, 2023 - Culture

The New York Film and Television Union Coalition is praising a pair of identical bills pending in New York State that would “prohibit applicants to the Empire State film production credit from using artificial intelligence that would displace any natural person in their productions.”

The coalition is made up of SAG-AGTRA, the WGA East, the Directors Guild of America, the Cinematographers Guild (IATSE Local 600), the Editors Guild (IATSE Local 700), United Scenic Artists (IATSE Local 829), IATSE Local 52, and Teamsters Local 817.

The use of artificial intelligence in the production of film and TV shows is a key strike issue for both the Writers Guild and SAG-AFTRA, which have been on strike since May 2 and July 14, respectively. The DGA’s new contract, which was ratified in June, contains guardrails on its use, and IATSE, which will begin contract negotiations next year, has said that artificial intelligence “threatens to fundamentally alter employers’ business models and disrupt IATSE members’ livelihoods.” 

“We strongly believe in the inherent value of human creative expression over generative artificial intelligence,” the Union Coalition said in a statement today, noting that the pending legislation “rightly prioritizes workers and protects against job displacement in the film and television industry and will help prevent misappropriation of the tangible and intangible assets of the creative talent we represent. We look forward to working further with Senator [Lea] Webb and Assemblymember [Demond] Meeks on this issue.”

And while saying that “we embrace the potential inherent in artificial intelligence to improve lives, improve jobs, and better our world,” the Union Coalition noted, however, that “this potential cannot be used as a tool to replace workers and the creative value they bring to the production of film and television. We will not sit idly by and let that happen. We will work at the bargaining table and with elected officials to protect our members and the essential contributions they make to the arts.”

The DGA has said that its new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers contains “several important commitments from the Employers regarding the use of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI).”

The DGA says that its AI provisions include an agreement “that the customary and contractual duties assigned to DGA-represented employees must continue to be assigned to DGA-represented employees covered by the agreement, and that GAI does not constitute a person.” The DGA deal also provides that “employers may not utilize GAI in connection with creative elements without consultation with the Director or other DGA-covered employees consistent with the requirements of the DGA Basic Agreement,” and that “employers, including senior studio executives, must meet at least twice per year with the DGA regarding the intended uses for GAI and to discuss appropriate remuneration for any material directed by DGA members that may be used to train GAI systems.”


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