After five months on strike, Writers Guild of America (WGA) members approved a new three-year contract with major studios. This agreement provides, among others: salary increases and some protection for film industry workers related to the use of artificial intelligence.
99 percent WGA members who voted to approve or reject the agreement reached voted in favor of the agreement. The strikers reached an agreement with the Motion Picture and Television Producers Association, a group that negotiates on behalf of Walt Disney World, Netflix and other studios. This ended one of the longest professional strikes in Hollywood history. However, many film and television productions are still on hold as actors have been on strike since July.
What did the scriptwriters achieve?
Studios agreed to raise screenwriters’ salaries by 5% in the first year, 4% in the second year and 3.5% in the third year, for a total increase of 13%. The new contract stipulates that writers are entitled to bonuses if a series or movie is viewed by 20% of U.S. subscribers within the first 90 days of its premiere or within the first 90 days of each subsequent year. Premier will be up to 50% of the specified rate.
From now on, studio projects will have to guarantee a minimum number of fully employed screenwriters (currently, there were no such rules, so studios often hired inexperienced screenwriters who were treated as if they were on unpaid internships). Rules determining the minimum period of employment were also defined.
The guild also managed to convince studios to increase the rate of health and pension contributions for writing teams.
The contract also sets out the rules for using artificial intelligence in the work of screenwriters. It is stated that artificial intelligence is not a creator and cannot be treated as a screenwriter. Studios cannot use writers’ work to teach artificial intelligence. However, artificial intelligence can be used when working on scenarios. This can be done by the screenwriter himself, provided that he reports it to the studio and obtains its consent. The studio must also inform the screenwriters before starting work whether the material they will be working on has been generated by artificial intelligence.