Sep 26, 2023 - Technology

Hollywood writers' contract deal includes historic AI rules

Illustration of robot hands typing on a typewriter.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The agreement to finally end the 148-day-long Hollywood writers strike includes landmark rules governing the use of AI in Hollywood projects.

Why it matters: Legal, creative and labor norms around AI are unsettled, and the guidelines set today are likely to set patterns for the future.

  • The use of AI in industries that center on intellectual property, such as acting, publishing and journalism, has become a big issue for other companies negotiating labor contracts.

Details: The deal establishes regulations for the use of AI in projects involving writers who are subject to the contract.

  • It says that AI "can't write or rewrite literary material," and AI-generated material "can't be used to undermine a writer's credit or separated rights," which are held by a writer individually rather than by some larger entity.
  • Writers can choose to use AI when performing writing services with consent from their production partners, but they can't be forced to do so.
  • Studios are also required to disclose to writers if any materials given to them have been generated by AI or incorporate AI-generated material.

Zoom out: The new deal gives writers most of what they had been asking for, including better wages, benefits and staffing minimums.

  • But the parameters around AI are particularly notable, because they create standards for writers just as tools like ChatGPT are beginning to go mainstream.

What's next: SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents striking actors, has said that it would review the terms of the writers' deal as it continues its own ongoing negotiations with Hollywood movie studios.

  • Actors are also fighting for guidelines around AI as a part of their ongoing contract negotiations.

Go deeper: What happens after the Hollywood writers' strike ends

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to remove a statement that the use of writers' work to train AI is "prohibited." In the deal to end the writers' strike, the union has "reserved the right to assert" that such a practice is prohibited by law.

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