Could movie studios use AI to replicate an actor's image and use it forever?

Look closely, because films in the future may include digital replicas of background actors.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
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AI has made its way into nearly all of our favorite art forms including music, visual art, and now possibly even films. According to SAG-AFTRA, AI makes it possible for background performers' images and likenesses to be used forever.

The Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has been making headlines because of its national board's unanimous decision to go on strike after failing to agree on a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). 

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In a press conference on Friday announcing the strike, SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland revealed a proposal by AMPTP that would have background performers scanned by AI, get one day's pay, and have their image and likenesses owned by their company and used in perpetuity. 

"They proposed that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get paid for one day's pay, and their companies should own that scan, their image, their likeness, and for people to use it for the rest of eternity in any project they want with no consent and no compensation," said Crabtree-Ireland.

The alleged proposal has major ethical implications as workers would be losing out on potential pay for their work, and also raises questions about the future and authenticity of acting. 

In a statement to ZDNET, AMPTP denied the claims, stating that the organization would pay actors for using their digital replica and would ask for actors' consent. 

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"The claim made by SAG-AFTRA leadership that the digital replicas of background actors may be used in perpetuity with no consent or compensation is false. In fact, the current AMPTP proposal only permits a company to use the digital replica of a background actor in the motion picture for which the background actor is employed. Any other use requires the background actor's consent and bargaining for the use, subject to a minimum payment," an AMPTP spokesperson told ZDNET. 

While the contradictory statements leave the true nature of the proposal unclear, there's no denying that generative AI will continue to permeate the ways in which our favorite arts are produced. 

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