After 148 days, the Hollywood writers strike It is finished. The two branches of the union WGA, corresponding to the east coast and the west coast of the United States, have ratified the decision to maintain the provisional agreement between the central and AMPTP, the film and TV employers’ association. Although the final text of the pact has not yet been approved, workers in the sector can now return to their jobs if they wish.
After a general assembly that will be held simultaneously on both coasts on Wednesday, WGA members will ratify the final agreement with the employers. between October 2 and 7, after a round of consultations. According to Variety, the decision to end the strike has been made unanimously among the negotiating committee, so a retreat seems unlikely.
The terms of the agreement between the WGA and the AMPTP occupy a 94-page document, covering the key points that led the screenwriters to strike: restriction on the use of artificial intelligence (AI), transparency on the part of the platforms when disclosing their audience data and distribute incentives based on the audience (residuals) and minimum provisions in the writers’ rooms to put a stop to labor exploitation.
AIs will not be able to write scripts
When the strike was called, placing limits on the use of artificial intelligence to generate content was one of the WGA’s most striking demands. Judging by the terms of the agreement, The union has achieved its objective.
In this way, the pact prohibits production companies from using AI to write or rewrite scripts: computer-generated content, if any, will not be considered original material subject to copyright. Likewise, although screenwriters can use artificial intelligence in their work, studios cannot force them to do so.
In the event that studios want their scriptwriters to work from texts created by artificial intelligence, They will be obliged to inform you of this fact. Finally, the union reserves the right to complain in the event that production companies use the work of their members to ‘train’ their AIs.
The hearings: transparency and incentives
The traditional opacity of platforms when revealing their audience data could be coming to an end after the agreement with the writers’ union. From now on, VOD services will be required to share this information (including the number of hours of a movie or series played worldwide) with the WGA.
The center has also done something when it comes to guaranteeing residual, those incentives that screenwriters receive based on the benefits generated by their work. From now on, the income from reproductions outside the United States will be based on the number of subscribers of the platform in those territories, which will mean an increase of 76% on current figures.
Screenwriters whose signature appears on big ratings hits, on the other hand, are in luck. From now on, movies and series that are watched by more than 20% of subscribers of a platform in the US during their first days on air will earn a plus of 50% calculated from the residual at home and abroad.
In the case of platforms with more users, these incentives will begin in the $9,031 (for a half-hour episode in a series), they will continue for the $16,415 (one hour chapter) and they will reach the $40,500 if it is a film with a budget of more than 30 million.
Staff minimums in writers’ rooms
Another important claim of the WGA was to guarantee the presence of enough writers in the writers’ rooms, in order to avoid labor exploitation derived from squalid teams formed, for the most part, by workers freelance.
According to the employer-union agreement, from now on the teams working on a series in development must consist of at least three people (including the showrunner) who will be guaranteed 10 weeks contract. Once the series enters production, the minimum number of workers will depend on the number of episodes.
Thus, a series of six episodes or less must have three scriptwriters. This figure will rise to five for shows of between seven and twelve episodes. And, if the series has 13 episodes or more, the number of writers with a permanent position cannot go below six.
Despite the WGA’s victory, the unrest in Hollywood has not yet ended. Unionized screenwriters are not yet required to return to work, and the WGA has encouraged them to join the SAG-AFTRA actors union picket lines, who is still on strike. The demands of this strike, combined with those of the strike already called against the video game industry, could lead to another batch of changes in the industry.
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