The future of AI-written scripts is in strike development

Hollywood’s latest offer has major AI loopholes

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The Future. Film and TV writers may need to worry more about generative AI undermining copyright protections than outright replacing them in jobs. While the studios have made clear AI won’t be treated as a human writer on projects, a loophole remains on who owns the work that began as an AI generation. For Hollywood writers, closing those loopholes for good may be one of the only ways the strike ends.

Generating ownership
In its latest offer to the WGA, the AMPTP conceded it wouldn’t allow AI-generated scripts to be deemed as underlying literary material, and the AI wouldn’t be counted as the “first writer” on a project, which would’ve negatively impacted the compensation of a hired human writer.

But according to THR, that’s because, since AI can’t be granted copyright, studios actually need a human touch to gain ownership of the completed work.

Here’s how that would play out:

  • A script, or any work of art, is copyrightable after it’s been extensively revised by a human — otherwise, the AI work would enter the public domain.
  • So, studios could generate a first draft of a script and then hire a writer to rewrite it (with the proper compensation, credit, and rights), but make themselves the owner of the underlying IP.
  • That would allow the studios to hold greater control over the finished work, creating an ecosystem where fewer writers could maintain or claw back copyright ownership.

There are plenty of examples of the studios fighting to maintain copyright on popular IP in perpetuity, as evidenced by the fights over franchises like Predator, Friday the 13th, and Spider-Man.

As John Lopez, a member of the WGA’s working group on AI, says, “Fundamentally, the offers mistook who’s doing who a favor.”


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