The Writers Guild of America has proposed allowing AI to write scripts, as long as it does not affect writers’ credits or remainder.
The union had previously indicated that it would propose regulating the use of artificial intelligence in the writing process, which has recently emerged as a concern for writers who fear losing jobs.
But contrary to some predictions, the union is not proposing an outright ban on the use of AI technology.
Instead, the proposal would allow the writer to use ChatGPT to help write a script without having to share writing credit or split up the leftovers. Or, a studio manager could hand a writer an AI-generated script to rewrite or polish, and the writer would still be considered the first writer on the project.
In effect, the proposal would treat the AI as a tool — like Final Draft or a pencil — rather than as a writer. It appears intended to allow writers to benefit from the technology without being drawn into fiduciary arbitration with software manufacturers.
The proposal does not address the scenario in which the AI program writes the script entirely on its own, without the help of a person.
The union proposal was discussed in Monday’s first bargaining session with the Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance. Three sources confirmed the suggestion.
It is not yet clear if AMPTP, which represents the studios, will embrace the idea.
The WGA proposal simply states that AI-generated material will not be considered “literary” or “source material”.
These terms are key to assigning writing credits, which in turn have a significant impact on residual compensation.
“Literary material” is a key term in the WGA’s core minimum agreement – it is what a “writer” produces (including stories, treatments, screenplays, dialogue, sketches, etc.). If an AI program cannot produce “literary material”, it cannot be considered a “writer” on the project.
“Source material” refers to things like novels, plays, and magazine articles, on which a screenplay may be based. If the screenplay is based on the source material, it is not considered an “original screenplay”. A writer may also only receive a Screenplay credit, rather than a Written By credit.
The “Written by” credit entitles the writer to receive the full remaining amount of the project, while the “Screenplay By” credit gets 75%.
Declaring that ChatGPT can’t write “source material,” the syndicate will say a writer can adapt an AI-written short story and still get full “written” credit.
Such scenarios may seem far-fetched. But advances in technology can present some of the toughest issues in bargaining, as neither side wants to compromise on some advantages that may become more important in the years ahead.
AI can also be used to help write questions about “Danger!” or other “contests and audience participation” offers.
SAG-AFTRA has also raised concerns about the effects of artificial intelligence on performers, particularly regarding the loss of control over their image, voice, and likeness.
The WGA is set to continue negotiating for the next two weeks before informing members of next steps and a possible strike. The contract ends May 1.
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