At the start of November, SAG-AFTRA managed to secure a tentative deal with studios to bring the actors strike to an end. As the union’s members are voting on the contract, SAG-AFTRA has released its draft for the general public to go through in its full, 128-page glory.
The agreement was approved by the SAG-AFTRA board days after a deal was struck, but in the weeks since, it’s left members divided. Much of that split can be attributed to the contract’s AI portion. A larger outline for the contract revealed studios must require clear and explicit consent from living actors (or the individual estate of a dead performer) before creating a digital replica, and compensation will depend on different factors like the time spent making the replica and if it’s used as a principle or background actor. If AI is used in post-production, like dubbing or additional effects, consent isn’t required.
Justine Bateman and Matthew Modine have made their concerns over this agreement’s handling of the technology known, going so far as to urge their fellow members to vote “no.”14 percent of SAG-AFTRA voted against the deal’s approval, and several voice actors (like Street Fighter 6’s Anairis Quiñones and Voltron’s Josh Keaton) have noted the union may be underestimating where generative AI will end up in the next few years, and how it’ll impact the voice acting industry in particular. Studios and the AMPTP are basically asking the actors to trust them, but Bateman outlined on Twitter in an extensive thread how that trust would ultimately be misplaced.
Over the past week, SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher and negotiation president Duncan Crabtree-Ireland have tried to assuage members that it did the best it could regarding AI. They both pushed back those who claimed they settled with studios, with Crabtree-Ireland arguing that they felt the union hit “peak leverage” after locking down those AI points. And in the message sent to members alongside the voting card, Crabtree-Ireland said the provisions made help “establish lengthy and detailed AI guardrails that didn’t exist before and do protect you as we meet the challenge of this new technology.”
SAG-AFTRA has until December 5 to vote on the tentative agreement, and should it go through, will run through June 30, 2026. You can read it all here.
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