Hollywood Actor Union Agreements to Require Human-Only Voice-Overs

Hollywood Actor Union Agreements to Require Human-Only Voice-Overs

Members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists union (SAG-AFTRA) in the US will vote by March 22, 2024, to ratify a new agreement that includes “the first SAG-AFTRA animation voiceover contract with artificial intelligence protections and gains,” according to an announcement on the union’s website.

The Television Animation Agreements are three-year contracts that include terms updated as a result of the 118-day actor strike in Hollywood. Notably, the union sought to include specific terms to protect artists from being replaced by digital replicas without their consent and ensure they benefit from AI at the same time, among other negotiations.

According to the announcement, in the contract “the term ‘voice actors’ includes only humans and acknowledges the importance of human voice acting.” 

For artificially dubbed voice-overs, the contract also specifies that voice actors will be eligible for residuals based on the distribution of the foreign language version. But it goes beyond that, requiring consent for any prompting of a generative AI system using a performer name or names.

The approved contract includes language about digital voice replicas. For the replicas, the work should be acknowledged and specified in “contracts and other regular business documents, confirming that it was in fact the performer’s voice used to make the replica,” continues the union announcement.

Being a voice actor without a contract is thus actively discouraged by the union. “Now, more than ever, doing voiceover work without a union contract is playing with fire,” as the union’s president, Fran Drescher, put it.

SAG-AFTRA will also require regular meetings about AI with producers to discuss methods and systems to track the use of digital replicas.