SAG-AFTRA’s AI Deal With Studios Is Pretty Concerning
The SAG-AFTRA actors’ union has issued a statement addressing the explicit AI-generated images of Taylor Swift that went viral this week.
The images, which provoked intense backlash from some of the singer’s fans and calls for new legislation on AI, began circulating on X and Telegram before they were eventually removed by content moderators.
The actors’ union condemned the deepfake images, calling them “upsetting, harmful, and deeply concerning.”
“The development and dissemination of fake images — especially those of a lewd nature — without someone’s consent must be made illegal,” the union said.
It also reiterated its support for Rep. Joe Morelle’s Preventing Deepfakes of Intimate Images Act, which seeks to criminalize the nonconsensual sharing of sexually explicit, digitally altered material.
“As a society, we have it in our power to control these technologies, but we must act now before it is too late,” the union added. “We support Taylor, and women everywhere who are the victims of this kind of theft of their privacy and right to autonomy.”
It comes after SAG-AFTRA members’ headline-grabbing strike last year.
The roughly 160,000 member union walked out over a dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
The strike lasted nearly four months before a deal was reached that saw members win pay increases, streaming bonuses, and AI protections, which gave performers a degree of control over the use of digital images of them.
Those looking to reproduce actors’ likenesses with AI must now first obtain their consent, and the stars must be paid for the number of days they would have worked to perform any scenes featuring their digital replicas.
But some actors are still concerned over the new AI terms, particularly over the “vague” consent exemptions, Mashable reported.
Employers are not required to gain consent for adjusting certain performance parts such as “lip and/or other facial or body movement and/or the voice of the performer to a foreign language.”
When a digital replica is used without consent, the contract also fails to stipulate that studios will be forced to change their footage, per the report.
Other key worries include the use of “synthetic performers” taking over from real actors.
“The most serious issue of them all is the inclusion in the agreement of “Synthetic Performers,” or “AI Objects,” resembling humans. This gives the studios/streamers a green-light to use human-looking AI Objects instead of hiring a human actor,” filmmaker Justine Bateman wrote on X.
“To me, this inclusion is an anathema to a union contract,” she added.