The Big Picture
- The Writers Guild of America has ended their strike after securing historic new protections for workers in the film industry, including safeguards against AI, better residuals, accurate streaming data, and health insurance.
- Collective bargaining has proven successful as the writers have secured almost all of their initial requests, as demonstrated by the evolution of their demands between May and the tentative agreement reached.
- The new deal regulates the use of AI in TV and film projects, stating that AI-generated material cannot be considered literary material or source material, and provides the guild with the right to assert that using writers’ material to train AI is exploitation. The agreement is a significant victory against AI’s infiltration into the industry.
After 148 days of demanding better rights for workers from across the film industry, the Writers Guild of America announced the official end of the strike last night. A tentative deal was reached earlier this week, and with the announcement of the strike’s conclusion, the specifics of the new agreement between the studios and the guild have finally been revealed, and they are historic. The members of the WGA still have to vote to ratify, which will take place between October 2 and October 9, but in the meantime, writers will be headed back to work with the knowledge that they will have new, all-encompassing protections against AI, better residuals, accurate streaming data, and health insurance.
While AMPTP originally rejected and refused to counter a number of the requests made by the WGA at the start of the strike, the writers have secured almost every single one of their requests, which proves that collective bargaining can indeed work. The 7-page outline delivered by the WGA clearly showcases the evolution of their requests between the initial offer in May and the tentative agreement reached over the weekend. In addition to outlining what AI cannot do, the deal also clearly defines what a “Showrunner” is, ensures that Staff Writers are paid for their episodes, creates minimums and preserves Writers’ Rooms, and clearly defines how studios will have to report their streaming data.
The new deal will regulate the use of artificial intelligence on MBA-covered projects, clearly stating that AI-generated written material cannot be considered literary material, source material, or assigned under the MBA. It goes on to state that AI is not a writer under the MBA, though actual writers can elect to use AI to perform writing services if the company consents to it, though they can’t require writers to use AI software. It also forces studios to disclose if materials given to writers have been generated with AI, and provides the guild with the right to assert that it is exploitation to use writers’ material to train AI, as prohibited by the law. This is a huge win for the WGA, which has been leading the charge against AI’s infiltration into the industry.
The SAG-AFTRA Strike Continues
The WGA may have come to an agreement with AMPTP, but SAG-AFTRA’s strike continues, and the writers plan to stand in solidarity with their union siblings until a fair and equitable deal is reached for them as well. With the historic deal made with AMPTP, it seems likely that SAG-AFTRA may reach a similar agreement with the studios, but it may take a little more time. The WGA strike began on May 2, with SAG-AFTRA joining them on July 14, which means the Screen Actors Guild may have a few more weeks left until they can get the studios to cave to their reasonable requests. It does seem like the studios are more willing to wrap up the strikes than they were earlier this month, though there is no end in sight yet for actors who are still on the picket lines across the country.