The Future. In its contract-renewal talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has laid out that artificial intelligence can’t make intellectual property or be used as literary material. While some argue AI doesn’t seem to be very good at writing scripts anyway, the forward-thinking negotiation may be preparing for a future where it could learn to.
Not a person, not a writer
Since AI-generated works don’t meet the criteria for copyright, the WGA is arguing to the studios that…
- AI can’t be used as source material for a project because that would require AI to be involved in the “chain of title in the intellectual property.”
- Studios can’t ask WGA members to adapt material generated by AI as it wouldn’t be considered real literary material.
- That also means that studios can’t use scripts generated by AI because they can only work under union rules — and AI isn’t a union member.
The move is meant to protect writers’ “working standards including compensation, residuals, separated rights, and credits.” Protecting union writers’ livelihood means protecting against “writers” that aren’t alive.
What studios can do is point to AI-generated material as reference or research material, like they would a Wikipedia article. It’s limited to just that because, as the WGA says, “plagiarism is a feature of the AI process.”
For now, the US Copyright Office agrees because machines are just rearranging and synthesizing previously-created works, even when humans are the ones prompting that process. At best, AI is just another tool in a writer’s toolbelt.