Striking Hollywood Actors Fear Their Likeness Being Used by AI Forever

AI robot signing a contract

Leaders of the striking actors’ union say that Hollywood studios want to create scans of background actors so they can use AI-generated replicas of them in perpetuity.

The SAG-AFTRA’s chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland took issue with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) after it put out a statement saying it has offered actors a “groundbreaking artificial intelligence (AI) proposal.”

During a press conference, Crabtree-Ireland was scathing of the AMPTP’s offer, breaking down his interpretation of the deal.

“This ‘groundbreaking’ AI proposal that they gave us yesterday, they proposed that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get one day’s pay, and their companies should own that scan, their image, their likeness and should be able to use it for the rest of eternity on any project they want, with no consent and no compensation,” he says.

“So if you think that’s a groundbreaking proposal, I suggest you think again.”

The AMPTP put out a statement after SAG-AFTRA’s press conference denying Crabtree-Ireland’s claims.

“The claim made today by SAG-AFTRA leadership that the digital replicas of background actors may be used in perpetuity with no consent or compensation is false,” says spokesperson Scott Rowe.

“In fact, the current AMPTP proposal only permits a company to use the digital replica of a background actor in the motion picture for which the background actor is employed. Any other use requires the background actor’s consent and bargaining for the use, subject to a minimum payment.”

De-aged Harrison Ford
A 79-year-old Harrison Ford playing a 35-year-old Indiana Jones with the help of AI | Lucasfilm

AI technology is already being employed in Hollywood with Indiana Jones 5 featuring a de-aged Harrison Ford for the first 25 minutes of the movie.

What Are The Hollywood Actors’ Strikes About?

Actors walked out on Thursday evening. The SAG-AFTRA union which represents roughly 160,000 Hollywood actors called the strike after talks broke down over a new deal with Hollywood’s biggest studios.

The actors join the already-striking writers on the picket line, the first time both professions have been on strike since 1960.

While the main dispute is around money — with union members finding their pay diminishing as streaming services dominate the market — AI regulation is also a factor in both strikes.

Writers and AI

Forbes reports that the Writers Guild of America (WGA) want a ban on AI writing or rewriting “library material,” a ban on AI generating source material, and members do not want their material used to train AI tools.

The AMPTP rejected this proposal and instead offered to hold annual meetings “to discuss advancements in technology.”

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.