SAG-AFTRA ratifies TV animation contracts that limit the use of AI voices.

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SAG-AFTRA announced Friday that members have ratified new three-year contracts for voice actors working on animated TV shows.

The deals address the same concerns that fueled the 118-day actors’ strike last year, particularly artificial intelligence, which many actors fear will replace their jobs.

Like live-action deals, animation deals don’t prohibit the use of AI. But they prevent actors from reproducing their voices without their permission.

Although the terms of the move are largely modeled on the agreement that ended the strike, there are some differences. SAG-AFTRA negotiated language declaring that animation voice actors must be human — a definition that was not included in the TV/Theatrical deal.

“We’ve got it in writing,” Union said earlier this month on X, formerly known as Twitter. ‘Voice Actors’ in New TV Animation Contracts Include Only Humans!

The lack of this definition in the TV/Theatrical Agreement was a point of contention during the ratification process. At the time, the union’s top negotiator, executive director Duncan Crabtree Ireland, argued that describing actors as human would not be an effective safeguard against the misuse of AI.

“You need real protection for what these companies can do,” he said last fall. “There’s nothing that just looks good, but doesn’t actually protect you.”

As with TV/theatrical deals, animation contracts provide consent and compensation for the use of “digital replicas” to recreate an actor’s voice. The agreement doesn’t prevent studios from training AI models on past performances to produce “artificial” voices — as long as those voices don’t resemble a real voice actor or their character.

A studio must also obtain the actor’s consent to immediately use their name to create a synthetic voice. The contract also requires studios to notify the union whenever they create artificial sounds. And the union will have an opportunity to argue that actors deserve to be paid for their contributions even if the end result is not theirs.

The deals generally follow the pattern set by the TV/Theatrical contract in other cases, with a 7% increase in scale wages through July 1, followed by increases of 4% and 3.5% in subsequent years of the contract.

Animation contracts also include the same “achievement bonus” for the most-watched shows on streaming.

The contracts were ratified with 95.5% support – up significantly from the 78% approval for the TV/Theatrical deal in December.

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