Writers Guild of America proposal to allow AI in script writing

The proposal comes as a surprise to those expecting a ban on AI

By Gabriella Geisinger 23 Mar 2023

Writers Guild of America proposal to allow AI in script writing
Writers Guild of America West

The Writers Guild of America has proposed allowing AI to be used as part of script writing, as long as it does not interfere with a writers credit or residuals.

The proposal was discussed in the first bargaining session on Monday March 20 with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. On March 22, the WGA clarified via Twitter the details of the proposal.

It stipulates that AI, like the increasingly popular Chat GPT, may not be used as source material for adaptations, nor will AI be allowed to generate adaptations of literary material.

While seemingly ambiguous, the phrase literary material is fundamental to WGA’s basic agreement. Literary material is the product of a “writer” and if an AI program is incapable (or prohibited) from producing literary material, then the AI is not considered a writer.

The WGA adds: “In the same way that a studio may point to a Wikipedia article, or other research material, and ask the writer to refer to it, they can make the writer aware of AI-generated content.”

If a writer adapts an AI created story, the writer would receive sole and full credit. This is key to residuals; “written by” credits garner a writer full residuals, while “screenplay by” credits entitle a writer to 75% residuals.

The differentiation between literary material and the products of an AI also affords writers the ability to use AI in their writing process without having to negotiate over credits with an AI’s software manufacturer. As such, The WGA is positioning AI as a tool of a writer, rather than a writer itself.

Still, the proposal has many in the industry concerned about the long-term impacts of such permissions. Not only does the use of AI impact residuals, but professional bodies like the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have raised concern over a performer’s loss of control of their likeness, voice, and image. In the case of the WGA proposal, it also impacts job opportunities for writers. The proposal does not address the possibility of a script being entirely written by AI.

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