The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) — a trade union representing 150,000 film and TV professionals — reached an agreement with an artificial intelligence (AI) voice technology company, Replica Studios. The “groundbreaking” deal concerning the use of AI voice in video games was revealed by the SAG-AFTRA on Jan. 9.
The agreement will enable Replica to create and license a digital replica of the actors protected by the SAG-AFTRA under “fair and ethical” conditions. Licensed voices can be used in AAA video games and “other interactive media projects” from pre-production to final release.
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Apart from the “minimum terms and conditions,” the agreement will provide performers the right to consent and negotiate with the AI company, as well as the power to opt out of “continued use” of their voices in “new projects.”
SAG-AFTRA national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland believes that the union achieved all its targets during negotiations with Replica:
“With this agreement, we have achieved fully informed consent and fair compensation when it comes to the use of our members voices and performances.”
However, the acting community and some SAG-AFTRA members are far from happy with the announced deal.
Does leadership not understand that we actually like working? I don’t want my AI replica being used in AAA games. I want to actually *work* on those AAA games.
If the vast majority of VO actors are saying not to scrub our voices, then how is this endless push at all “ethical”? https://t.co/sxCUZpyHnf
— Kamran Nikhad (@KamranNikhad) January 9, 2024
The most straightforward argument against the agreement is that actors would prefer to act on record and not just give away a sample of their voice. Others emphasize the lack of details in the SAG-AFTRA press release or any voting process during the deal confirmation by the union.
Oh…. oh no. @sagaftra no. The fact that they don’t include any details of the agreement makes me immediately pessimistic. There’s no way this is actually good for us. If it is a good agreement I will happily eat my words but…. oh no. https://t.co/tFcD2119Tj
— Jennifer Caitlin Roberts (@akaGhostBird) January 9, 2024
In November 2023, SAG-AFTRA struck another major deal concerning AI, that time with major film studios. The union agreed on the guidelines for creating, using and altering “digital replicas” of performers. The deal implied compensation for creating and using their AI replicas and their use in any additional projects or other mediums.
“Approved by affected members of the union’s voiceover performer community…” Uhhh, where and when @sagaftra???
Wasn’t aware of this until *just* now and I’m the exact type of member you’re talking about. https://t.co/PMvhZumiUS
— Shelby Young (@shelby_young) January 9, 2024
That agreement has also steered a mixed reaction in the acting community despite the 86% confirmation vote within SAG-AFTRA. Previously, in September 2023, the Writer’s Guild of America also ended its strike with a deal, limiting the studio’s leverage to force screenwriters into using AI.
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