Hollywood writers go back to work

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of keyboards clacking, pens scribbling, and overpriced latte orders echoing across the Sunset Strip... 

…which can only mean Hollywood writers are back. 

What happened: After 148 days on the picket line, Hollywood writers are returning to the word factory today after board members of the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement with studios and streamers.

  • Talk shows could pick up by next week (the wait is over, Drew Barrymore fans), though scripted shows and movies will stay on hiatus as the actors’ strike continues.

Yes, but: Writers still need to vote to ratify the three-year deal next month. Though it’ll likely be a formality as the WGA secured a big win for wordsmiths, including a wage bump, a new residual payment system for streaming, and minimum staffing requirements for TV shows. 

Most notable are the groundbreaking protections surrounding AI. 

The WGA secured guarantees that AI cannot be used to write or re-write scripts produced by actual humans and that AI-generated material cannot be considered “source material” — meaning that AI cannot be credited as writer, protecting a writer’s credit and compensation.

  • AI and AI-generated material can still be used in scriptwriting if a writer consents, though the “exploitation of writers’ material to train AI is prohibited.”

Why it matters: As one of the first bargaining deals to directly address AI, this deal will likely be a guidepost for future contracts and labour agreements dealing with the sticky issue of AI protections — especially in industries centred around IP like publishing and journalism.—QH