Title: Writers Guild of America Secures Historic Contract with Major Wins in Pay Increases and AI Regulation
Subtitle: New Agreement Reveals Significant Salary Raises and Measures to Restrict Artificial Intelligence in the Entertainment Industry
Los Angeles, CA – In a groundbreaking development, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) announced a summary of a historic contract, marking a significant victory for its members. The agreement includes substantial pay increases and regulations for the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the entertainment industry.
Under the new contract, writers of streaming features can expect a minimum compensation increase of 18 percent, with an additional 26 percent increase in residual base. These salary boosts particularly apply to high-budget subscription video on demand platforms like Netflix and streaming films. The WGA’s strong negotiation stance has ensured that writers receive fair compensation for their work in the rapidly growing streaming industry.
Alongside pay increases, the WGA has successfully secured provisions to tackle the growing influence of AI. The contract specifies that AI will not be permitted to write or rewrite literary material, nor can it be considered as a source material for content creation. This means that executives will no longer have the ability to generate a story using AI and have writers turn it into a script that they then own the rights to.
Furthermore, the WGA has asserted its right to claim that the exploitation of writers’ material to train AI is prohibited by the existing Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) or other applicable laws. This ensures that if AI training practices become ethically or legally contentious in the future, the WGA can take action to protect its members’ rights. This provision is particularly relevant in light of proposed legislation in California governing the use of materials for AI training purposes.
Katharine Trendacosta, director of policy and advocacy at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a reporter covering the WGA strike, emphasized the significance of AI regulations within the contract. She stated, “AI is the flashy thing, but the data is the game changer.” This sentiment underscores the recognition that the availability of accurate data is crucial to drive fair compensation and decision-making processes within the industry.
Addressing the issue of data transparency, the contract mandates that studios provide the WGA with precise streaming metrics for self-produced high-budget streaming programs. Streaming giants such as Netflix, Disney Plus, and Amazon will no longer be able to manipulate or obscure performance data through subjective rankings or arbitrary measurements. Although the specific metrics may be subject to nondisclosure agreements (NDAs), the WGA will have the ability to release aggregated data, offering a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the business of streaming.
This newfound transparency will make it significantly more challenging for streaming platforms to misrepresent the success or failure of projects. It will also prevent them from canceling shows due to alleged lack of interest while objective data suggests otherwise. The entertainment industry’s reliance on ambiguity and selective data reporting will be curtailed, ensuring a more accurate portrayal of performance and greater accountability for streaming platforms.
The WGA’s historic contract marks a watershed moment for writers in the entertainment industry. With significant pay increases and stringent regulations on the use of AI, the agreement reflects the growing influence of streaming platforms and the need for fair compensation amid their exponential growth. Additionally, the inclusion of data disclosure provisions heralds a new era of transparency, allowing industry professionals and audiences alike to gain a deeper understanding of the streaming landscape.
As the contract is implemented, the impact of these newfound measures on writers’ pay, creative control, and industry dynamics will continue to unfold, potentially setting a precedent for future negotiations across the entertainment sector.
Disclaimer: The Verge’s editorial staff is also unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East.