Australian Writers’ Guild says no thanks to AI

The WGA struck for months for protections against AI content. If it should come to that here, the AWG knows which camp it will be in.

The Australian Writers’ Guild has released a statement confirming it is strictly against the unregulated use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Australia’s creative industries. The paper comes in response to the Writers Guild of America winning critical contract protections regarding AI in the US screen industry (after striking for months).

The AWG statement outlines the imminent threat posed by AI and proposes an extensive framework for the appropriate regulation of its use to protect Australian workers and audiences. 

The paper states: 

The unregulated use of AI by corporate content producers – including the major international studios and major video game publishers – represents a clear and present danger to Australian writing, and consequently a significant dilution of the critical functions we perform.

It is our position that the Australian creative sectors require the implementation of unambiguous guidelines, reinforced by rigorous, forward-looking legislation to provide strong protections.

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The AWG, which represents Australia’s screenwriters, playwrights, game narrative designers, comedians and podcasters, noted the risks of content producers using unregulated AI technology. In brief, these concerns are: 

  • The degradation and loss of Australian culture in its most accessible forums 
  • The appropriation and erosion of First Nations culture
  • The replacement of thoughtfully developed and realised Australian screen drama, theatre, and interactive content 
  • The loss of livelihoods for Australian creative workers 
  • The erosion of the skill base of Australian creatives
  • The capture of players’ personal information and
  • Exposing video game audiences to potentially harmful or offensive content.

As for how it would regulate AI use, the statement lists authorial control, fair remuneration, protection of moral rights, First Nations cultural assets, classification, and player opt in as its top foci.

‘At the core of this paper is the Guild’s directive to affirm and defend the right of every Australian writer to have their work fairly remunerated and protected through copyright,’ said AWG Executive Director Claire Pullen.

‘AI is derivative by nature. Its decision mimicry comes from “scraping” works of Australian authors and creatives, most often without their consent, acknowledgement, or payment to the original artists. We need unambiguous guidelines and strong legislation to protect our arts workers and to ensure Australia has a creative and cultural future. AI has a place in our industries, but it is not in replacing the creative heart of every story.’

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‘We know good writing is human writing and that the art and craft at the core of writing results from human endeavour, experience, and aspiration. That cannot be derived or replicated, and we have to ask – why would you try?’ 

With the ability to generate content with AI becoming easier and easier, the AWG hopes their anti-artificial intelligence position is made clear, especially when it comes to what the future may hold for the Australian screen industry.

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports