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Mājas Entertainment SAG-AFTRA Unveils Tentative Multiyear Agreement — Including AI ‘Guardrails’ — With the...

SAG-AFTRA Unveils Tentative Multiyear Agreement — Including AI ‘Guardrails’ — With the Major Labels

SAG-AFTRA Unveils Tentative Multiyear Agreement — Including AI ‘Guardrails’ — With the Major Labels

SAG-AFTRA has inked a tentative agreement, spanning 2021 through 2026 and including “artificial intelligence guardrails,” with the major labels. Photo Credit: Tim Wildsmith

SAG-AFTRA and the major labels have revealed a tentative multiyear deal that includes several “artificial intelligence guardrails.”

The union, which says north of 600 music companies are signed to its Sound Recordings Code, just recently unveiled the proposed agreement. Spanning January 1st, 2021, through the end of 2026, the deal, made specifically with Disney Music Group, the mentioned majors, and “most of their subsidiary labels,” will implement the AI guardrails “immediately upon ratification.”

And at least as summarized by SAG-AFTRA, these guardrails cover areas of general agreement in the rapidly evolving AI-music arena. For instance, prior to the release of any recording containing a “digital replication” of a voice, the framework calls for “minimum compensation requirements” as well as the disclosure of “details of intended use.”

Moreover, “clear and conspicuous” artist consent must also precede the release of any soundalike recording, SAG-AFTRA indicated in its breakdown. But logic and evidence suggest that adjacent areas like avatars present trickier considerations that remain to be settled.

The majors are dabbling in said avatar acts, which are receiving an even bigger push from South Korean labels. Longer term, one needn’t stretch the imagination to see how these virtual offerings, despite not directly cloning prominent voices and styles, could represent a significant threat to human artistry.

Bringing the focus back to the AI deal, though, the Sound Recordings Code agreement further encompasses increased minimums (“a compounded total wage increase of 26.3% over the term”), health and retirement improvements (“an increase in the percentage of streaming revenue to be covered by contributions”), and more, SAG-AFTRA relayed.

“SAG-AFTRA stands firm in the belief that while technology can enhance the creative process,” national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland communicated in part, “the essence of music must always be rooted in genuine human expression and experience. We look forward to working alongside our industry partners to foster an environment where innovation serves to elevate, not diminish, the unique value of each artist’s contribution to our rich cultural tapestry.”

As to where the possible agreement goes from here, with SAG-AFTRA’s executive committee having approved the tentative deal on Wednesday the 10th, it’s been forwarded to members for ratification.

Postcards with voting instructions were mailed out today, the union said. Meanwhile, an informational meeting about the proposal is slated to take place this coming Thursday, and SAG-AFTRA noted a voting deadline of 5 PM PT on April 30th.

In related news, the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) closer to April’s beginning finalized a motion picture agreement, complete with certain AI protections.

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