European writers duo FSE & IAWG call for AI ‘transparency & accountability’

IAWG Chair Jennifer Davidson (IAWG)

Two of the largest writer representation organisations in Europe have called for “transparency and accountability” as the industry grapples with the use and impact of artificial intelligence (AI).

Members of the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe (FSE) and the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds (IAWG), which includes the UK-based WGGB, said they were joining forces to establish a “joint position” on the ethical use of AI.

The IAWG and FSE provided a five-point “joint position” around the use of AI to be used in collective bargaining, mandatory clauses in standard contracts and via lobbying, with the move following last year’s agreement between US writers unions and Hollywood.

The trade bodies, which cumulatively account for 46 screenwriters’ organisations across Europe, said that “only writers create literary material and that large language models (LLMs) or any other present or future forms of artificial intelligence (AI), cannot be used in place of writers.”

Other points covered by the agreement state that:

  • i) Work to create mechanisms for obligatory transparency and accountability and to ensure writers are informed if AI generated material is used to write, rewrite, polish or perform any additional writing services
  • Advocate for robust licensing mechanisms that require explicit and informed consent for the use of writers’ intellectual property in AI training data with a goal to ensure only intellectual property that has been licensed for such use be included in the datasets of commercialized LLMs, or any other present or future forms of AI
  • Ensure that only human beings are entitled to authors’ rights and recognised under copyright law in the context of machine generated material
  • Advocate for fair remuneration for the use of writers’ intellectual property in LLMs or any other present or future forms of AI.

IAWG chair, Jennifer Davidson, said: “The members of the IAWG seek to build on the hard-won protections our sister Guilds in America, the WGAE and the WGAW, were able to achieve during their strike: namely that it should be a tool to enhance our writing process, not diminish the value of our work or replace us.”

FSE president, Carolin Otto, added: “While we applaud the work of the European Union to enact the AI Act, there are unresolved issues with respect to the unauthorised use of our intellectual property for training large language models, and uncertainty regarding authorship and copyright of machine-generated script material.

“We intend to voice our concerns in both national and global policy arenas, as well as develop standard language film and television writers can demand in their contracts.”

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