While we’ve already seen the adoption of AI tools come with layoffs for writers in other industries, the Writers Guild of America is reportedly ready to embrace the disruptive technology as long as it doesn’t directly affect how creators are credited and paid.
If Variety notes, “literary material” refers to the creations that writers come up with themselves, such as original screenplays, while “source material” refers to pre-existing work that is then adapted by another creator for a separate project. By excluding any content generated by an AI tool like ChatGPT from being literary or source material, the proposal would effectively allow writers to “draft” stories using ChatGPT prompts, transforming those stories to scripts and then claiming the sole writing credits for the entire endeavor. If a studio got to work rolling out AI-generated protoscripts and then passing them off to human creators to improve upon, those humans could still be considered the project’s original writers. Curiously, the WGA’s proposal reportedly failed to consider the possibility of scripts being written entirely by an AI.
But it feels remarkable that the WGA is pushing the idea of normalizing AI-sourced content given growing concerns (particularly in some creative circles) about the tools for datasets as they are trained. If this practice were to become commonplace, it’s not hard to imagine plagiarism and original authorship disputes arising from the fact that this kind of technology creates things based on other things that have been seen before. Some might argue that the last point can also be said of the human creative process, and to some extent it is. But it feels more than fair to say that the WGA is entering unfamiliar territory here that, from a distance, seems to have the potential to become very thorny.
Talks between the WGA and AMPTP regarding the WGA’s contract will continue for the next two weeks.