Hollywood studios agree AI-generated content should not reduce humans' pay or credit

Proposed trade rules offer substantial pay rises in the hope they halt writers' strike

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) has offered not to credit generative AI as a co-author of scripts in its negotiations with the Writers Guild of America (WGA).

Tens of thousands of writers affiliated with the guild have been on strike since May to fight for better pay and working conditions. Members want higher salaries, longer contracts, pension and health benefits, and protection from generative AI taking their jobs or being used in ways that could drive down pay.

In response the AMPTP, representing over 350 TV and film studios, has presented the guild with a fresh proposal [PDF] in hopes of persuading writers to return to work.

The trade group is willing to side with the WGA in some of its requests [PDF] about the use of generative AI (which it calls GAI). The AMPTP has confirmed, for example, that scripts, dialog, or plots generated by AI will not be considered literary or source material – meaning machines are not eligible to receive any writing credit.

"The proposal provides important safeguards to prevent writers from being disadvantaged if any part of the script is based on GAI-produced material, so that the writer's compensation, credit and separated rights will not be affected by the use of GAI-produced material," the AMPTP argued.

In practice, that means if writers are given AI-generated content to improve, it will not be considered as "assigned material" and they can expect to be paid the full fees that come with working on a screenplay. Their work will also not be treated as rewrites, and they will receive full compensation and credit. Studios also promised to disclose to writers whenever AI was used to generate content.

The WGA has asked that human writers' material not to be used to train AI, but there was no mention of this in the proposal.

Importantly, the AMPTP proposal also offers greater transparency to writers regarding viewership on streaming services, which have fundamentally altered the economics of film and television distribution. This is promised explicitly to "enable the WGA to develop proposals to restructure the current SVOD residual regime in the future."

The guild also wanted a six percent wage increase in residual base pay for the first year, five percent in the second year, and another five percent the year after. But the AMPTP has only offered five, four, and 3.5 percent bumps, respectively.

It has, however, offered writers a guarantee of a minimum of ten weeks of employment. That offer means writers working in the early phases of script development can expect to earn:

  • $69,590 for a Staff Writer (a 31 percent increase);
  • $129,780 for Story Editors and Executive Story editors (a 31 percent increase);
  • $142,140 for all other Writer-Producers (44 percent increase);
  • Anyone who writes a script while in a development room is paid extra (e.g., $43K+ for a one-hour script). Agents can negotiate higher rates.

The wages are higher for writers on longer contracts in regular writing rooms, going up to:

  • $95,460 for a Staff Writer (a five percent increase) for 20 weeks' work;
  • $155,660 for Story Editors and Executive Story Editors (a five percent increase) for 20 weeks' work;
  • $170,480 for all other Writer-Producers (a 15 percent increase) for 20 weeks' work.

AMPTP president Carol Lombardini declared in a statement that the offers outlined above show "our priority is to end the strike so that valued members of the creative community can return to what they do best and to end the hardships that so many people and businesses that service the industry are experiencing."

"We are deeply committed to ending the strike and are hopeful that the WGA will work toward the same resolution,” she added.

Meanwhile, the AMPTP is also embroiled in a battle with the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). Actors from both orgs oppose AI being used to create virtual copies of people's faces, bodies, and voices.

The Register has asked WGA for comment. ®

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