DGA Support New York State Legislation on Generative AI

DGA Support New York State Legislation on Generative AI

May 7, 2024

On May 7, DGA National Vice President Laura Belsey represented the Guild at a press conference in Albany, NY to show strong support for Senator Lea Webb and Assemblymember Demond Meek’s tax law amendment to prevent productions receiving the Empire State Film Production Credit from using generative AI to displace qualified workers.

“The DGA is proud to stand here in coalition with our fellow film and television industry unions in strong support of legislation which will help ensure that artificial intelligence develops in ways that puts people first,” said Belsey.

“The Guild secured landmark protections in its negotiations with the Studios last year establishing that Artificial Intelligence isn’t a human being and the work of Directors and their teams must continue to be done by a person. The guiding principle that people must come first should be a universal theme for our society’s collective approach to dealing with the promise — and peril — that Artificial Intelligence poses, and should become embedded in the laws of our State and Country. For however strong a union’s contract may be on Artificial Intelligence, there are things that that can only be done through our democratic and legislative processes. There will always be producers who will try work outside union agreements or seek to avoid complying with them.

“At the State level, producers shouldn’t be allowed to displace hard working middle class creative economy workers through artificial intelligence, particularly when they seek the benefits provided by the State’s incentive program. These programs must benefit the people of New York, and not be a vehicle to displace their work. The Webb/Meeks bill will do exactly this, and will protect our State’s vital film and television production industry and the tens of thousands of middle class jobs it supports.

“When used as a tool, AI will allow Directors and our creative collaborators to create moving and economically sustaining film and television that will be enjoyed around the world. But, we must also acknowledge that it has the potential for misuse, and it must develop with reasonable safeguards that put people first.

“And that is why we are here today — the bottom line is that it should augment, not displace the jobs of human beings – and certainly in productions supported by the Empire State tax incentive program. We urge New York legislators to support this bill and protect our State’s creative workers.”

The event was attended by a coalition of entertainment unions that also included IATSE, SAG-AFTRA, Theatrical Teamsters Local 817 and the WGA East.