It was always known that the AMPTP would return to the negotiating table in the autumn, they pre-announced it in a not-at-all callous fashion when they said:
“The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses”
The cruelty was an intended feature of the timescales, not an unintended consequence. But those timescales shifted in an unexpected way, when in August United States District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell upheld the U.S. Copyright Office’s decision to deny copyright for an image created by Artificial Intelligence. Citing the absence of a “guiding human hand” in the AI-generated artwork’s creation, this was the death knell for one of the demands of the movie studios and streamers:
If a work is “created” by AI, it can’t be copyrighted.
And without this central tenet, the rest of demands were really only about money and a comparatively small amount for the studios.
What Has Been Gained?
- Higher Pay – The three-year film and TV contract raises basic wages by 5% in the first year, followed by 4% in Year 2 and 3.5% in Year 3. Select residual bases and minimums will get lower increases or single increases
- Streaming bonuses/data – The WGA will receive confidential viewership metrics for original streaming shows based on hours viewed, and bonuses can be paid for successful shows
- Minimum staffing – Unless a single writer is employed to write all episodes of a season, series with up to six episodes, three writers must be hired. For shows of 13 or more episodes per season, minimum staffing is six writers, including three writer-producers.
- Artificial intelligence – Studios must disclose to writers if any material given to a writer has been generated by AI or incorporates AI-generated material, according to the guild’s document. And, due to the court case, even if a source document is AI generated, the credit will reside with the human writers attached.
After 148 days of striking, overall a win for the WGA. Originally the package they wanted was for around $429 million, the AMPTP originally offered an $86 million counter-proposal, and the final result came in at around $233 million. Quite the result for the union and its members.