WGA backtracks on anti-AI stance, as long as writers get credit

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(Image by Maria Korolov via Leonardo AI.)

The Writers Guild of America, which represents screenwriters, is backing off on its anti-AI stance, Variety reported today.

The union is currently negotiating contracts with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, and was initially opposed to any use of AI whatsoever.

“AI can’t be used as source material, to create MBA-covered writing or rewrite MBA-covered work, and AI-generated text cannot be considered in determining writing credits,” the WGA said in a Twitter thread yesterday.

The MBA is the collective bargaining agreement that covers most of the work done by WGA writers. The current contract expires on May 1.

“AI software does not create anything. It generates a regurgitation of what it’s fed,” the WGA continued. “If it’s been fed both copyright-protected and public domain content, it cannot distinguish between the two… plagiarism is a feature of the AI process.”

Now, it seems that the WGA is willing to consider AI to be a tool, similar to Final Draft or a pencil.

If a writer uses ChatGPT or similar AI tool to help create a script, or works on a draft script created by ChatGPT and handed to them by a studio executive, the writer would still be considered the author of the script, the WGA is now proposing, according to Variety. So, as long as the writers get paid, it’s all good.

The guild’s reversal comes at the same time as major companies, including Adobe, Shutterstock, and Getty Images, are creating AI platforms that are trained only on fully-licensed content. While those three platforms currently create images, the same principles are expected to be applied to text generated by commercial AI platforms, since corporate users do not want to see their copyright tied up in the courts. Once clean training data sets are in use everywhere, the copyright infringement argument becomes irrelevant.

The AI tidal wave — and the associated risk of loss to writing jobs and income — is coming at the worst possible time for screenwriters. According to the WGA, their earnings have already been decimated by the growth of streaming services, which pay significantly less. The guild reported that the median weekly writer-producer pay has declined 4 percent over the last decade — adjusting for inflation, the decline is 23 percent.

MetaStellar editor and publisher Maria Korolov is a science fiction novelist, writing stories set in a future virtual world. And, during the day, she is an award-winning freelance technology journalist who covers artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and enterprise virtual reality. See her Amazon author page here and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and check out her latest videos on the Maria Korolov YouTube channel. Email her at [email protected]. She is also the editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business, one of the top global sites covering virtual reality.

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