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The screenwriters' strike in Hollywood is over: what are the most outstanding points of the agreeme

After 148 days of a strike which kept the cinema and TV industry of Hollywood on high alert, the Writers Guild of America (WGA), the American screenwriters union reached a tentative agreement with the Film & Television Producers Alliance (Alianza de Productores de Cine y Televisión). This resolution puts an end to one of the longest strikes the union has ever seen.

The end of the strike was officially announced on September 26. The screenwriters resumed their activities two days later. However, “the final decision on whether to accept the proposed terms is still on hold, and members will have to ratify the agreement through vote”, according to the specialized site The Hollywood Reporter.

“This allows screenwriters to get back to work during the ratification process, but does not affect the members' right to make a final decision on the agreement approval”, stated the WGA Negotiating Committee after its WGA West Board and WGA Council voted unanimously to lift the strike, published on the official website WGA Contract 2023.

This agreement, which will be effective until May 2026, addresses several screenwriters' concerns regarding their compensation, especially on streaming platforms and the influence of artificial intelligence (AI) and the creation of content.

Photos J. W. Hendricks

Salary raise

One of the immediate measures will be that screenwriters will receive a 5% increase in their salaries. In May 2024, this increase will be 4%, followed by another 3.5% increment in May 2025, for a total of 12.5% salary increase during this period.

It is important to consider that not all screenwriters will receive the same increase, as this will depend on the industry´s established patterns.

Besides the salary raise, the screenwriters´ health fund will also go up by 0,5% resulting in a total increase of 12%.

Photo: Antonio Reinaldo

Platforms and Intellectual Property rights

The screening of series and movies through streaming platforms was - and still is - one of the union's main concerns. In that aspect, screenwriters achieved a significant victory by ensuring royalties based on the performance of their content on these platforms.

When the agreement is sealed, screenwriters will receive up to 50% of the fixed domestic and foreign royalties, as long as the productions are watched by at least 20% of the platform's users in the first 90 days of their release, or in the first 90 days of any subsequent year.

These royalties will be calculated by dividing the time users spend watching content by the total duration of it. These changes will be effective as of January 1 and will have a significant impact on the bonuses that screenwriters will receive for their work on streaming platforms.

Based on these changes, writers would receive a USD 9,031 bonus for a half-hour episode, USD 16,415 for a one-hour episode or USD 40,500 for a feature film in streaming with a budget exceeding USD 30 million.

Photo: Brittany Woodside

Artificial Intelligence

Another point of the agreement addresses the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in content creation. In this particular case, it was agreed that AIs are not allowed to write or rewrite literary work. Any AI-produced material will not be considered source material and may not be used to take credit away from a writer. If screenwriters decide to use an AI tool, they must have the company's consent and follow the applicable policies.

Moreover, the company must inform the screenwriter if the material provided was produced by AI and it is strictly forbidden to use the writers' work to train AI, unless the union approves it.

Minimum required by screenwriters:

Lastly, the agreement sets a minimum number of scriptwriters to be hired. For example, three writers would be recruited for a six-episode show. This number would increase for series with more episodes. Furthermore, a minimum number of working weeks is guaranteed for the scriptwriters, both in the pre-production stage and when broadcasting begins.

It is important to highlight that the new regulations will come into force for productions to be released in January 2024, having a positive impact on the working conditions and remuneration of screenwriters.

This tentative agreement marks a significant step forward in the fight for the rights of screenwriters and directors in the film and television industry. The upcoming elections will be crucial to determine whether these terms will be accepted and finally implemented or whether the strike might resume.



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