A Hollywood union agreement with music titans prohibits the use of AI


In order to release songs that include computerized reproductions of artists’ voices, the proposed deal with record companies requires permission and payment.

Workers in the entertainment sector have reached a preliminary agreement with major record labels such as Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment over the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and the need for increased minimum pay.

In a statement posted on their website, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the union that represents 160,000 actors and media workers in Hollywood, announced that they have overwhelmingly approved the “Sound Recordings Agreement” (which covers the period from 2021 to 2026).

In light of the fact that generative AI makes it easy for internet users to copy artists’ voices—sometimes without their knowledge or consent—the proposed deal with record labels requires permission and payment before releasing songs containing digital copies of artists’ voices.

“Artist,” “singer,” and “royalty artist” are all defined as human beings under this agreement, according to SAG-AFTRA. Improved health and retirement benefits, a larger share of streaming income subject to payments, and other provisions are also part of the deal.

The deal is a result of artificial intelligence (AI) technology’s meteoric rise to prominence in the entertainment industry, which will likely dominate 2023 negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and big studios. In November, after months of strikes, discussions finally ended with a contract deal.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, chief negotiator and executive director of SAG-AFTRA nationally, believes that genuine human expression and real-life experiences should always form the foundation of music:

“Protecting our members is the primary goal of this agreement. True human expression and experience are the bedrock of music, even as technology may facilitate the creative process.”

Replica Studios is an artificial intelligence voice technology business, and in January, SAG-AFTRA and the union signed yet another deal on the use of AI voices in video games. Performers will have the ability to negotiate and consent with the AI business under the agreement, and they will also have the opportunity to opt out of having their voices used in “new initiatives.”

The use of AI in cinema, and particularly in virtual filmmaking, has enormous promise. The settings are realistic, and it’s cheap. This technology might revolutionize filmmaking because to its increased creative freedom and decreased production costs. The AI protection accord seeks to provide fair credit for industry contributions, notwithstanding its transformational capacity.

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