IATSE General Secretary-Treasurer James B. Wood Witnesses Historic AI Executive Order at The White House

WASHINGTON, D.C. — IATSE General Secretary-Treasurer James B. Wood was in attendance at the White House as President Joe Biden announced and signed a landmark executive order (EO) on artificial intelligence (AI), Monday. The executive order will begin to govern the development and use of AI in the United States. IATSE commends the Biden-Harris Administration for centering workers’ rights in this EO and we are pleased to see many of our Core Principles for Applications of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Technology reflected in the comprehensive approach being undertaken by the White House.

Among the guiding principles of this EO is a commitment to supporting American workers, with President Biden stating, “all workers need a seat at the table, including through collective bargaining, to ensure that they benefit from these opportunities.” He continued, “the critical next steps in AI development should be built on the views of workers, labor unions, educators, and employers to support responsible uses of AI that improve workers’ lives, positively augment human work, and help all people safely enjoy the gains and opportunities from technological innovation.”

Commenting following the event, IATSE General Secretary-Treasurer James B. Wood stated: “President Biden’s Executive Order prioritizes the livelihood of U.S. IATSE members and is strongly aligned with our approach to the implementation of AI technology in the entertainment industries. I’m confident this administration will continue to be a partner in ensuring the fruits of increased productivity through AI are shared equitably among all stakeholders. They share our view that the implementation of AI should not lead to job losses but rather should serve as a tool, complementing the work done by our members.”

Another significant inclusion in the EO is an acknowledgement of the importance of copyright and intellectual property protection for creators. Maintaining strong copyright and intellectual property laws is the primary focus of IATSE’s AI-related political and legislative advocacy. Notably, the EO directs the United States Copyright Office (USCO) to issue recommendations to the President on executive actions that will address copyright issues raised by AI – specifically those discussed in the USCO’s forthcoming AI study, a study for which IATSE has provided formal input. 

Yesterday, IATSE and sibling entertainment industry unions within the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) responded to the USCO notice of inquiry and request for comments with our jointly held positions on the copyright issues raised by AI.

We must ensure entertainment workers are fairly compensated when their work is used to train, develop or generate new works by AI systems. We must improve transparency of the use of AI and machine learning systems. AI developers cannot be allowed to circumvent established U.S. copyright law and commit intellectual property theft by scraping the internet for copyrighted works to train their models without permission from rightsholders. The theft of copyrighted works – domestically and internationally – threatens our hard-won health care benefits and retirement security.

We look forward to continued engagement with the Biden-Harris administration and the federal agencies tasked with implementing responsible, ethical AI policy that maintains workers’ rights, job security, and union representation.

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The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees or IATSE (full name: International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada), is a labor union representing over 170,000 technicians, artisans and craftspersons in the entertainment industry, including live events, motion picture and television production, broadcast, and trade shows in the United States and Canada.

For more information please contact:
General: comms@iatse.net
Press: press@iatse.net


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