AI Latest: UK Actors Union Forges Toolkit To Tackle Performance Cloning & Consent

UK actors union Equity has joined the AI debate full throttle by developing a toolkit that, amongst other things, attempts to prevent performers from having their performances cloned.

The toolkit, which comes as Rishi Sunak meets Joe Biden in Washington to seek common goals on AI, takes a four-pronged approach by providing:

  • A vision statement articulating how AI can be applied ethically by the entertainment industry 
  • A template AI contract to protect artists engaging with performance cloning work
  • Model AI clauses to protect artists from having their performance cloned without their consent 
  • A template take-down notice to tackle intellectual property infringement by platforms and websites

Of particular focus is cloning, with the union fearful that actors are having their work copied by synthetic recordings that reproduce their voices or act as body doubles via digital avatars.

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The vision statement, meanwhile, says artists have the right to areas such as “consent for past, current and future performances,” “fair and proportionate remuneration” and to be “engaged under a collectively bargained agreement.”

The toolkit was developed by IP expert Dr Mathilde Pavis, who said the UK’s legal framework is “not well designed to protect performers from unauthorised imitations of their work using AI technology.” The UK government is expected to produced a generative AI code by the summer.

Equity New Media Official Liam Budd said: “With use of AI on the rise across the entertainment industries, Equity is taking action and giving our members the tools they need to safeguard their legal rights. We are proud to be leading the way by producing a ground-breaking template AI contract and setting out new industry standards.”

AI is a hugely buzzy topic at present and the debate is making its presence felt on both sides of the pond.

Equity’s larger U.S. equivalent, SAG-AFTRA, listed “generative AI” as one of the factors that “threaten actors’ ability to earn a livelihood” when it voted overwhelmingly yesterday to authorize a strike should a deal with the AMPTP not be struck.

The WGA and DGA have both similarly prioritized AI in their strike demands, with the DGA walking away with a “groundbreaking agreement confirming that AI is not a person and that generative AI cannot replace the duties performed by members.”

Sunak has been in Washington meeting Biden this week to discuss how the two nations can work together to both combat the growing technology and harness its power.

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