Hollywood Labor Strike Negotiations Stall over Ownership of Performers’ Digital Likenesses


The ongoing labor strike between the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) has reached another roadblock. Contract talks, which aimed to resolve the strike, have once again hit a standstill due to the studios’ desire to own performers’ digitally scanned likenesses indefinitely. In this article, we delve into the contentious issue that has caused negotiations to falter and examine the implications for actors and the film industry.

1. AMPTP’s Latest Contract Proposal Falls Flat:

The AMPTP, representing the interests of major Hollywood studios, initially deemed its most recent contract offer as the “best and final.” However, upon review, the proposal faced strong resistance from SAG-AFTRA due to the inclusion of new rules concerning the use of actors’ likenesses. This disagreement has prompted the guild to walk away from negotiations as the studios seek to gain ownership over performers’ digitally scanned likenesses.

2. The Studios’ Push for Ownership:

Under the AMPTP’s proposed contract, studios would have the right to secure the digitally scanned likenesses of Schedule F performers, who are SAG-AFTRA members earning more than the minimum rates for television series or feature films. This provision has raised concerns within the guild, as it would potentially allow studios to use these digital scans without the consent of the actors or their estates.

3. Actors’ Rights and Consent:

SAG-AFTRA has vehemently opposed the AMPTP’s proposal, primarily due to the potential exploitation of actors’ likenesses. The guild is now advocating for changes that would require studios to compensate actors each time their digital likenesses are used and to seek explicit consent from the actors before doing so. Their aim is to safeguard the rights of performers and ensure fair compensation for the commercial use of their image.

4. Digital Scans of Deceased Actors:

One of the most contentious aspects of the AMPTP’s proposal is its implications for deceased actors. Should the contract be accepted as is, studios would have the ability to use digital scans of deceased actors without the consent of their estates or the guild. SAG-AFTRA strongly opposes this provision, as it raises ethical concerns and disregards the importance of protecting the legacy and image rights of deceased performers.

5. The Impasse: Essential Items on the Negotiation Table:

Despite the negotiations, there remain several crucial issues on which SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP have yet to find agreement. One of these contested items is AI (Artificial Intelligence). The guild has not provided specific details on the aspects of AI being negotiated, but it seems clear that the parties are yet to find common ground on how AI technologies may influence the industry and actors’ rights.


As Hollywood’s labor strike continues, the issue of ownership over performers’ digitally scanned likenesses has become a significant hurdle in reaching a resolution. The AMPTP’s desire to control these likenesses in perpetuity clashes with SAG-AFTRA’s demands for compensation and consent from actors. The outcome of this dispute will have far-reaching implications for the industry and the protection of actors’ rights in the digital age. It remains to be seen if the negotiating parties can bridge their differences and bring an end to the ongoing labor strike.

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