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New SAG-AFTRA Rules Cover Voice Talent Rights, Pay For AI-Generated Digital Audio Ads.


As more advertisers embrace artificial intelligence to create customized elements in their digital audio ads, featuring specifics like the time of day, weather or location, SAG-AFTRA has approved a new waiver to take the use of dynamic AI into account. The main difference between the new Dynamic AI Audio Commercials Waiver and the previous Dynamic Audio Waiver is the added terms that cover the use of AI technology to generate the highly personalized ads.


The new waiver features several AI-specific contractual protections. That includes a performer must be given prior notice by a producer that the intent is to use the performer’s voice to create a digital voice replica — and provide prior written consent for the creation of that digital voice replica. Performers must also consent before their digital voice replica can be used in a commercial and must be informed about what product or service will be advertised and how many spots will be created. Each time a new commercial is created using the digital voice replica the performer must be notified and compensated per the terms of the waiver.


The new AI-focused waiver also requires producers to take reasonable steps to ensure the security of voice material and to prevent unauthorized use of actors’ voices by any third party, and to delete all copies of an actor’s voice at the end of the employment relationship.


“Performers will always have the ability to opt out of the use of their digital voice replica in an ad, and each time a new commercial is created using their digital voice replica a performer must be compensated per the terms of the waiver,” says Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, National Executive Director & Chief Negotiator at SAG-AFTRA. “This agreement furthers the union’s goal of ensuring that whenever A.I. is used in ways that impact SAG-AFTRA members, appropriate protections, informed consent and proper compensation are always required,” he says in an update to members.


The Dynamic Audio Waiver was first created in 2018 and most recently updated as part of the recently ratified 2022 SAG-AFTRA Audio Commercials Contract. The update provides terms for the use of AI technology in the creation of digital voice replicas and the use of these digital voice replicas in personalized dynamic audio ads with AI-generated custom elements. Examples include ads that say, “good morning,” “good afternoon,” “good night” and “a rainy day here in New York” in the commercials.


Under both waivers, performers are paid a session fee for each commercial created from a performer’s live voice or from the use of the performer’s digital voice replica. Under the Dynamic AI Audio Commercials Waiver, performers also receive an additional 50% of a session fee for the creation of the customized elements that are dynamically inserted to personalize the commercial. Under the standard contract, SAG-AFTRA talent are paid $550 for a 60-minute commercial recording session, in addition to a digital use fee that is based on how long the ad runs. For a four-week campaign, the voice performer is paid $385, with a one-year unlimited usage fee of $1,210.


Crabtree-Ireland said since the waivers were first adopted, union members have benefited. He says the new waiver will “open up new work opportunities” for union members, while also providing protective terms for the use of digital technology to create personalized audio-only digital ads.


See SAG-AFTRA’s Dynamic A.I. Audio Commercials Waiver HERE.

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