Unions claim win as Hollywood studios agree generative AI isn't an author

The pen is (slightly) mightier than the algorithm

The Writers Guild of America has ended its 148-day strike after reaching an agreement with Hollywood's TV and film studios to increase pay and regulate the use of generative AI in ways that mean writers are paid regular rates even if they work on machine-generated material.

Members voted to accept the Memorandum of Agreement [PDF] put forward by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), a trade group representing over 350 of television and film production companies. Both sides have been bargaining to improve working conditions since May, leading to a near-total strike by creatives.

The WGA has successfully negotiated its desired limits on the use of AI. Under the new agreement, Hollywood can use generative AI to create scripts or stories, but human writers asked to work on them will be paid as if they worked on any other gig. Writers can’t be compelled to use AI, but can choose to do so by agreement.

AI cannot be credited alongside writers and will not impact their pay. Broadcasting and entertainment companies must be transparent if any material given to a writer has been produced using AI. They have also agreed to not collect writers' work to train future systems without the writers' consent.

"The proposal provides important safeguards to prevent writers from being disadvantaged if any part of the script is based on [generative AI]-produced material, so that the writer's compensation, credit and separated rights will not be affected by the use of GAI-produced material," the AMPTP previously stated.

The trade group also agreed to increase writers' wages by up to five percent immediately, decreasing to four percent, and three-and-a-half points in the following years. They can also contribute more of their earnings towards a health and pension fund. Meanwhile, studios will pay them 50 percent of fees upfront, and their compensation will rise in relation to the production budget and popularity of their content.

A feature-length project with a budget of $30 million or more, for example, will guarantee writers a minimum of $100,000 in wages, not including bonus pay for attracting larger audiences around the world.

Nine weeks has been set as the minimum time writers will be employed. If three or more collaborate on a series, that number goes up to ten weeks during the early stages, and 20 weeks if the show makes it to production.

"What we have won in this contract—most particularly, everything we have gained since May 2nd—is due to the willingness of this membership to exercise its power, to demonstrate its solidarity, to walk side-by-side, to endure the pain and uncertainty of the past 146 days. It is the leverage generated by your strike, in concert with the extraordinary support of our union siblings, that finally brought the companies back to the table to make a deal," reads a WGA statement.

The terms of the Memorandum of Agreement will last until May 1 2026, and the WGA will vote to ratify the contract next month. ®

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