By author Alex English

AI is everywhere in the press right now and there’s been a huge amount of buzz about it creeping into the screenwriting world and threatening writers’ jobs. But now the WGA has finally struck an agreement with the AMPTP, what does this mean for writers and AI?

I joined Bob Schultz’s Zoom chat this week to find out.

Are robots taking over?

In a word, no.

Article 72 in the WGA’s Memorandum of Agreement sets out how studios and writers should handle Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI) in scripts. And the important part — GAI is not a writer.

The agreement says that for the next three years, neither old-school AI nor GAI can be called a “professional writer”. And if you’re given a script produced by a GAI model to rewrite, that’s not considered adapting literary material, it’s an “assignment”.

Copyright? It’s Complicated

That also means that a writer can’t copyright work they’ve churned straight out from ChatGPT, but if you’ve substantially rewritten it (in other words put it in your own words and style, which is the fun bit as far as I’m concerned!), then you’re the writer and it becomes copyrightable.

Win-Win (but be transparent)

The agreement gives writers the option to use GAI in their work, but it can’t be mandated by studios.

If you do want to use GAI, Bob’s advice is to pitch it to producers as a win-win. Faster drafts, more options at your fingertips — producers will love it! Just remember, transparency is a must. Both studios and writers have to be upfront if GAI is used to produce any material.

There’s been a lot of controversy about whether using GAI is plagiarism. Bob says he doesn’t view it that way, and after learning more about it at one of his recent courses, neither do I. Anyone who’s tried writing with ChatGPT or another GAI will know that, although it can be a big time saver and a great creativity booster when it comes to brainstorming and structure, there’s still a lot of skill and work needed to get decent writing out of it.

Instead, it’s better to think of GAI as another tool in your kit, like Scrivener or Final Draft.

Stay nimble!

Overall it seems that the new WGA agreement is good news for writers — it sets some boundaries around transparency but also gives us the freedom to use AI as a tool if we want to. But things are moving fast in the AI world and no doubt there will continue to be changes as the technology develops and copyright law catches up. The key is to stay nimble. It’s not about the tool, it’s about the craft.

Keep writing, folks!

The replay of Bob’s Zoom chat can watched above.

And if you want to read the whole document you can find it here: LINK