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SAG-AFTRA, Record Labels Agree on AI Protections for Artists

SAG-AFTRA (Credits: Los Angeles Times)

SAG-AFTRA, a prominent union representing actors and media professionals, announced a tentative agreement with major record labels, including Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Disney Music Group.

This new deal, effective immediately upon ratification and lasting until the end of 2026, introduces pioneering protections against the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in the music industry.

The agreement specifies that the terms “artist,” “singer,” and “royalty artist” will refer exclusively to human beings. This measure addresses growing concerns among artists about AI-generated music and its potential to mimic human artists and affect their livelihoods negatively.

SAG-AFTRA union secures AI protections for artists (Credits: Tech Times)

Additionally, the deal mandates explicit, conspicuous consent and minimum compensation requirements for using any digital replication of an artist’s voice in sound recordings.

This agreement builds on previous AI protections that SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America secured with production studios last year after strikes highlighted the increasing threats AI poses to creative professions.

The deal includes improvements such as higher minimums, enhanced health and retirement benefits, and increased streaming revenue percentage subject to contributions.

Writers Guild of America (Credits: CNN)

The union’s executive committee has unanimously approved the deal, which will now be presented to union members for ratification. Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director and chief negotiator, emphasized the union’s commitment to ensuring that technology enhances rather than undermines the human aim of music.

He expressed a positive outlook on collaborating with industry partners to ensure that innovation enhances artists’ unique contributions. The Record Label Negotiating Committee also expressed satisfaction with the agreement, acknowledging the strength of their continued partnership with SAG-AFTRA in the evolving landscape of the music industry.

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