Summer 2022

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 48 of 73 | Summer 2022 | SAG-AFTRA 45 SAG-AFTRA and AI S AG-AFTRA has been working on issues relating to digital avatars and voices since long before AI was being used to create them. Expertise THE UNION has several staff members with considerable experience and expertise on name, image and likeness rights, as well as on AI technology and its applications, deepfakes and other related topics. They have presented to a global audience on these subjects, hosted panels and discussions with experts in the field, and have written and been interviewed for numerous articles related to AI. SAG-AFTRA also participates in a multi-union workgroup on AI with British Equity and ACTRA. Anticipating the rise of digital replicas, SAG-AFTRA has added or negotiated language into many of its promulgated and collectively bargained agreements prohibiting the creation or use of digital replicas without both the union's and the performer's consent, including those covering audiobooks, video games, podcasts, commercials and corporate/educational content. Advocacy "SAG-AFTRA HAS been advocating for rights of publicity and name, image and likeness rights for decades. This includes supporting critical legislation as well as writing amicus briefs in cases that could impact how laws relating to these rights are interpreted," said SAG-AFTRA General Counsel Jeff Bennett. SAG-AFTRA drafted and was instrumental in California's and New York's civil laws against unauthorized digital nudity, as well as the passage of New York's new right of publicity law, which includes prohibitions on using digital avatars of deceased performers. Protection FOR SEVERAL years, SAG-AFTRA has been in conversation with AI technology companies about the ethical use of this technology and the fair compensation and protection of performers who allow their voice, image or performance to be used in the development and use of an AI voice or avatar. "SAG-AFTRA is committed to ensuring that our members' rights are safeguarded and that they are paid what they deserve whenever their work is exploited, regardless of the technology employed or the nature of the exhibition platform," said Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives Sue-Anne Morrow. All SAG-AFTRA contracts for work in the AI space include these critical terms: • Safe storage of the performer's voice, likeness and performance, and the products and content created from them. • The right to consent — or not consent — to uses. • Explicit limitation on use of the content. • Appropriate payment for use of the content. • Any exclusivity must be clearly noted and fairly compensated. • The right for a performer to control or opt out of continued use and production. opportunities for our members," said SAG-AFTRA Executive Vice President Ben Whitehair. "But we must, as we always have, be deeply mindful of the associated risks, and ensure that our digital performances and likeness are protected." Know What You Are Agreeing To Anytime you grant rights to use your name, image, likeness and voice, you should have a clear contract in place governing the use. This is even more important in the digital context. But, even on traditional entertainment projects, performers are often asked to grant rights to use their voice, likeness, and performance well beyond what is necessary for the specific project. You might have heard about a lawsuit filed by a Canadian voice actor against the company behind TikTok. The performer had done voice work for a Scotland-based company, but the voice files were allegedly used without her consent in the popular app. The case illustrates the risks for actors, particularly when working without the protection of the union behind you. Being branded as an app's voice and being involuntarily associated with content that you cannot control can impact your image and ability to attract other voiceover work. The nonunion AI contracts SAG-AFTRA has seen have very one-sided terms and are often with companies based in foreign countries. Many of these contracts give broad rights to use your likeness or voice irrevocably and in perpetuity — this means they have those rights forever and you cannot cancel the permission. There typically is no case-by-case approval over how your digital self is used, and no form of residuals or use-based payments no matter how long or widespread the use is. "There are contract templates floating around that AI companies and industry players claim are performer-friendly, but a close look at the terms reveals a lack of crucial protections," said Senior Assistant General Counsel, Compliance and Contracts Danielle Van Lier. Rights of publicity — the laws that protect your name, voice, image and likeness — can potentially help against unauthorized uses of your digital self. These laws and others do not provide a remedy when you sign a contract granting away the rights. Without a union contract

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of SAG-AFTRA - Summer 2022