The recent deal struck between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and major Hollywood studios sets a precedent for workers in various industries, signaling that they have the power to control the introduction of disruptive technologies. One of the main concerns raised by the deal is the enforcement of intellectual property rights in relation to AI-generated scripts. The agreement provides some leverage to writers in their negotiations with studios, but it may not be enough to prevent AI companies, possibly based outside the US, from scraping their work without permission. Another question that arises is the burden of proof in cases where AI has contributed to a script without the knowledge of the studio, further complicating the enforcement process.
The WGA deal also reflects a future where machines and humans collaborate. Rather than villainizing AI, the agreement allows for continued experimentation and open-mindedness in its use, whether for generating names in a satirical work or for more complex collaborations with advanced versions of the technology. This progressive approach contrasts with some of the more fearful reactions towards AI, as some artists have demanded a seat at the table in US Congress to address copyright concerns surrounding generative AI.
Furthermore, the impact of the WGA’s agreement is likely to influence negotiations between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the Screen Actors Guild—American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). In particular, concerns arise among actors regarding the creation of synthetic “actors” using their past performances. The outcome of these negotiations could have implications for ongoing unionization efforts in other sectors, such as video game studios. As AI continues to be a pressing issue for workers, the WGA has emerged as a leading force among unions, emphasizing the importance of controlling and harnessing AI for the benefit of employees rather than simply rejecting its use outright.