SAG-AFTRA ratifies TV animation contracts that establish AI protections for voice actors

SAG-AFTRA has ratified new contracts for voice actors working in TV animation after members’ votes came in at over 95 percent in favor of the terms. The three-year agreements put into place new protections around the use of AI, including a requirement that producers obtain an actor’s consent before using their name as a prompt to create an AI-generated voice. SAG-AFTRA announced the contracts’ approval on Friday night. They’ll be effective through June 30, 2026.

Per the new contracts, “the term ‘voice actor’ only includes humans.” The contracts also outline voice actors’ rights around studios’ use of their digital replicas, and require producers to notify and bargain with the union any time they use AI-generated voices instead of voice actors. “This is the first SAG-AFTRA animation voiceover contract with protections against the misuse of artificial intelligence,” TV Animation Negotiating Committee Co-Chairs Bob Bergen and David Jolliffe said in a statement.

SAG-AFTRA’s Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said the agreement “represents a meaningful step forward in expanding our A.I. protections,” along with providing “important new terms in the areas of foreign residuals, high-budget SVOD [subscription video-on-demand] productions, late payments and much more.” The contracts establish a series of wage increases, starting with a 7 percent increase dated back to July 1, 2023, which actors will receive retroactive payments for. That will be followed by a 4 percent increase July 1 of this year, and a 3.5 percent increase the following year.

The union earlier this year announced that it had reached a deal with the AI voice generation company Replica Studios to give voice actors a way to “safely” license their digital voice replicas for video games. AI protection were also a crucial component of the strike-ending deal SAG-AFTRA reached with Hollywood studios late last year.

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