Writers Guild of America goes on strike

The Writers Guild of America is on strike from May 2. One of the main issues in the dispute is compensation and the rise of AI.

What is the Writers Guild of America?

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is a labor union. Its members are writers who write for television shows, movies, news programs, documentaries, animation and video games. The WGA is actually two labor unions working together: the WGA West and the WGA East.

Why is the WGA on strike?

The WGA has an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) in the US called the Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA). It covers the benefits, rights and protections for the work done by WGA members. The WGA renegotiates the MBA every three years. However, the current agreement ran out without a new one being agreed. This is why the WGA is on strike.

What are the WGA’s concerns?

One of the WGA’s main concerns is around the use of AI. There are an increasing number of AI websites and programs that can generate written content. Therefore the WGA is concerned that movie studios and television companies will use AI to replace human writers. During the negotiations for the MBA, the WGA also wanted to limit the use of AI in creating screenplays.

What effect will the strike have?

During the strike, WGA members can’t write for any projects governed by the MBA. This also means that writers won’t be writing new content for movies and television shows for the time being. For example, WGA members have stopped writing for late-night television shows such as NBC’s “The Tonight Show” and CBS’s “The Late Show.”

What we think

AI is in the news most days at the moment. More and more AI-powered programs can generate written work, images and even video. It can also be a lot of fun to see what AI can produce from just a few text prompts. However, there are also profound implications that need to be addressed. Many other groups in the movie and television world will watch the outcome of the WGA strike.

Image courtesy: Ashley Nicole Black

Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies is a freelance cinematographer and camera operator from Manchester, UK. He also produces and directs short films as Duck66 Films. Pete's latest short Once Bitten... won 15 awards and was selected for 105 film festivals around the world.

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