The Hollywood performers and music professionals’ union has reached a tentative deal with major record labels which includes protections from the use of AI. 

The deal involves music labels including Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Disney Music Group.

The move comes as AI becomes a pressing concern to the entertainment industry and a key issue at the centre of SAG-AFTRA’s month-long strike last year. 

In the music industry, performers and labels have been struggling with songs created entirely by AI, as the emerging technology has made it easy for users to replicate artists’ voices without their consent. 

The new deal has presented new protections which require consent and compensation from a music artist before sound recordings can use an AI digital replication of their voice.

Under the new agreement, terms such as ‘artist’, ‘singer’, and ‘royalty artist’ can only be used for humans. 

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“This agreement ensures that our members are protected. While technology can enhance the creative process, the essence of music must always be rooted in genuine human expression and experience,” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator.

In 2023, Disney formed a task force to study how GenAI can be used in its entertainment output. 

Disney said the group of experts aim to create a range of AI applications that can be used in-house, according to a Reuters report.

Josep Bori, GlobalData thematic research director, told Verdict that the media industry “is going to be significantly impacted by GenAI”.

“The large population of supporting and background actors as well as extras could be entirely replaced by software,” Bori said.