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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Friday, April 19, 2024

The Power of the Pen: The strike comes to an end

With the writers strike over, what happens now?


WGA strikers are pictured in June.

As of Wednesday, Sept. 27, the Writers Guild of America has officially ended their nearly five-month strike against big studios. Most employed writers returned to work later that day.

The decision to end the strike came from an agreement made between the union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. This agreement includes negotiations about payments, staffing, streaming terms and AI use for the next three years — until May 1, 2026. Final negotiations took place over five days with the CEOs of Disney, Warner Bros. and Netflix all in attendance.

Streaming terms included increasing residual payments to 76% and a bonus from the streaming services determined by viewership levels. Staffing terms laid out a minimum amount of writers on staff for a typical season of a show, ensuring work is properly split up amongst the staff.

One of the biggest points of concern in the world of entertainment, AI, was also discussed during these negotiations. Studios will not be allowed to use AI to change a writer’s material, allowing them to reign over their creative ideas and credits. Additionally, writers will not be forced to use AI as a writing tool by studios — but the use of AI by a writer will be permitted in the development of material.

However, studios will be allowed to use AI-written material they legally own. With this, studios inform writers if they are given material created by AI, and in the event studios would like a writer to rewrite AI content, the writer must be paid the same minimum wage as written projects.

The negotiations over AI use by studios is a significant win for the writers. The use of AI in entertainment was one of the biggest motivating factors the WGA had to strike.

An important thing to note is that, while the WGA has ended their strike, the actors are still currently on strike. Because of this, many currently paused TV and film productions will not come back right away. However, late night television and talk shows are expected to bounce back quickly. Even so, writers have been encouraged to stand with the SAG-AFTRA picket lines until they return to work.

As the writers return to their work and scripts, it’s important to remember why the strike began in the first place. The new age of entertainment and technology has brought with it new creative avenues, but also gray areas in credits and workers’ rights. Will studios respond to this achievement for said rights with price increases for streaming or other measures? It will be interesting to see what happens now that the strike has ended.

The 2023 writers strike, the second longest WGA strike by just five days, shows us that as times change, the rules of the world must be negotiated and broken down in order to move forward.