At today’s SAG-AFTRA strike announcement, the AI proposal put forth by the the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers was aired out for the first time, and it was said to include taking scans of background actors for use not only in a single project, but any project, in perpetuity.
If anything will help illustrate the absolute necessity of SAG-AFTRA striking, it’s these proposed “groundbreaking” AI concessions that the AMPTP allegedly offered during negotiations. It was addressed in remarks by one of the SAG-AFTRA leaders, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, who explained: “They proposed that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get one day’s pay, and their company should own that scan, their image, their likeness and should be able to use it for the rest of eternity, in any project they want with no consent and with no compensation.”
You can listen to the question and his response starting at 23:30 on the recorded livestream of the press conference. This is not only a deeply exploitative idea, but is the kind of futureproofing studios want—if a background actor becomes a star later on, what’s to stop them from pulling out that scan, aging them up or down as they see fit, and having them “star” in a new film? Nothing! It’s an absolutely unhinged idea that devalues the actors and the film industry the AMPTP claims to love and support.
This sort of investment in AI, regardless of how it abuses working class people or devalues artists, is spreading across multiple industries. Actors, writers, and multimedia artists are all having their jobs threatened because of low-return, high-yield AI and generative products that do not have the ability to replicate human work and should not be utilized in order to do so. As SAG-AFTRA officially joins the WGA and heads into a historic strike, both unions do so with the future of the industry in their collective hands.
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