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Deal struck for digital Hollywood

​SAG-AFTRA actor union members demonstrate outside Netflix studios, in Los Angeles, on Oct. 24, 2023.

SAG-AFTRA actor union members demonstrate outside Netflix studios, in Los Angeles, on Oct. 24, 2023.

Kayo Goto / The Yomiuri Shimbun via Reuters Connect
Members of SAG-AFTRA, the union representing actors in Hollywood, approved a deal with the major movie and television studios late last week. A main sticking point in the monthslong strike against the studios was artificial intelligence – particularly how the studios can use actors’ images in concert with AI technology.

Actors were concerned that studios could simply scan their bodies and use their digital images in perpetuity without compensation. The problem would most likely affect background actors, or extras, but firms have already sprouted up to let bigger-name stars control and capitalize on their likenesses.

The deal: In a tweet last Wednesday, the union boasted that it secured “compensation that will protect members from the threat of AI.” On Friday, after the union voted to accept the deal, details emerged about the specifics of the agreement. The union agreed to allow “digital replicas” of its members as long as they consent and are properly compensated. In other words, AI is A-OK in Hollywood – as long as everyone is getting paid appropriately.

To be determined: It remains to be seen whether studios will still pursue the use of digital replicas, or if the added cost will douse their interest.

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