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SAG-AFTRA makes deal with Replica Studios on AI use

SAG-AFTRA signed a deal Tuesday with AI voice developer Replica Studios, aiming to establish standards for the ethical use of AI voices in creative projects.

The deal allows licensed voices to be used in video games and “other interactive media projects,” per the guild’s announcement.

“Recent developments in AI technology have underscored the importance of protecting the rights of voice talent, particularly as game studios explore more efficient ways to create their games,” said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland in the announcement. “With this agreement, we have achieved fully informed consent and fair compensation when it comes to the use of our members’ voices and performances.”

Crabtree-Ireland stated the guild was “proud to work with Replica in leading the way to make it easy for these companies to access SAG-AFTRA’s world-renowned talent” in a way that ensures consent and fair compensation, creating a model for contracts with other companies to follow.

“We are excited by the new opportunities this opens up for world-leading AAA studios who can now access the benefits of Replica’s AI voice technology while knowing that talent is recognized and compensated fairly for the use of their likeness,” added Replica Studios CEO Shreyas Nivas, who distanced Replica’s used of licensed voices from the “wild west” of unethical data-scraping by other AI developers.

Regulation of AI replication of actors’ likeness and voice was one of the key negotiation topics during last year’s SAG-AFTRA strikes. The deal ultimately reached between the guild and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers established requirements for consent and compensation, but left open the possibility for studios to develop virtual actors using AI. 
Opponents of the deal, which passed with 78% of SAG-AFTRA members in favor, argued that the contract’s AI provisions failed to sufficiently protect actors. While the union had sought the option to veto the use of virtual actors in a production, the AMPTP only agreed to give them notice.

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