Richard Branson may have given us a glimpse into the future. One where actors appear virtually in advertisements, commercials, point-of-sale, et al., courtesy of artificial intelligence (AI), regurgitating dialogue and scripts that can be fed to a digital representation of the artist. Take a look at Virgin Voyages’ recent campaign featuring a glitchy Jennifer Lopez. Is this what the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are so worried about? We think, yes.
Plenty of things first appear in a fictitious context in film and television only to later become part of ordinary life (though we are still waiting for a Jetson’s flying car, they too are not far away). Pin this ad as a glimpse into the future or a cautionary illustrative example of what could be; either way, guilds and unions are looking around the corner and don’t like what they see: a grave threat to a creative’s NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) rights.
SAG-AFTRA has recently stated, “performers need the protection of our images and performances to prevent replacement of human performances by artificial intelligence technology.” In their current negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), SAG-AFTRA has a “comprehensive set of provisions” that would apply whenever a digital replica is used in place of an artist’s performance, or an artist’s performance is changed using AI. However, SAG-AFTRA claims that the AMPTP “want(s) to be able to scan a background performer’s image, pay them for a half a day’s labor, and then use an individual’s likeness for any purpose forever without their consent;” and be “able to make changes to principal performers’ dialogue, and even create new scenes, without informed consent;” and “want to be able to use someone’s images, likenesses, and performances to train new generative AI systems without consent or compensation.”
As for the WGA, they want regulation “of artificial intelligence on MBA-covered projects (i.e., under their Minimum Basic Agreement): AI can’t write or rewrite literary material; can’t be used as source material; and MBA-covered material can’t be used to train AI.”
The entertainment attorneys at PLF work with both talent and producers on an array of agreements that often include provisions relating to NIL. Whether you want to license or protect certain rights relating to NIL or hope to capture the right to an artist’s NIL, the PLF team is well-versed and ready to assist.