Film and television writers represented by the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists will resume work on Wednesday since their strike commenced in July this year.
According to the Huffington Post, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) East and West, finalised an agreement with the film and television industry after a nearly three-month strike.
They were seeking to improve wages, working conditions, health and pension benefits, as well as establish guardrails for the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in future television and film productions.
The WGA called for an end to the strike after securing wins that largely met many of the guild’s demands.
The writers won many game-changing new provisions, according to the union’s summary of what they gained in the new contract. These could set huge precedents for the entertainment industry — and on some issues, such as AI, could have a ripple effect in many industries beyond Hollywood.
In addition to rules prohibiting companies from using AI to write or rewrite shows and movies, AI-generated material can’t be used as source material for shows and movies. The union can also legally push back if companies exploit writers’ work and use it to train AI models. Companies must also be transparent about whether “any materials given to the writer have been generated by AI or incorporate AI-generated material.”
Writers will now be paid foreign residuals for streaming shows, as these platforms increasingly have a global reach.
And under the new contract, companies will have to be more transparent about streaming viewership numbers, which streaming giants like Netflix have often cherry-picked and reported inconsistently. Now, companies will be required to disclose to the union “the total number of hours streamed, both domestically and internationally, of self-produced high budget streaming programs (e.g., a Netflix original series).”
The union will also be permitted to share a selected summary of the data with members.
Throughout the strike, writers called attention to the difficulty of making a sustainable living as a writer, and criticised companies’ practices that have increasingly curtailed opportunities for writers.