MPA Chairman Charles Rivkin Talks About Potential Regulation Of AI At Senate Insight Forum, Says Industry Trying To Establish “Common Ground” On Technology With Guilds And Unions
MPA Chairman Charles Rivkin told lawmakers, tech CEOs and labor groups about the industry’s position on AI at a landmark Senate forum on the technology on Wednesday.
According to remarks released by the MPA, Rivkin told the closed-door session that “my industry welcomes the opportunity to discuss legislation…legislation that seeks to address the downside risks without stifling innovation or compromising on our longstanding democratic ideals – most of all the First Amendment, which our iconic industry depends upon.”
In his remarks, Rivkin did not mention the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes, but referred to AI as an issue in the industry.
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Rivkin told the forum that “we clearly recognize the legitimate concerns that this new technology presents. We are just beginning to understand both the upside and the downside risks of attempting to conclusively define this nascent technology. And we are working closely with our union and guild partners on this to establish common ground.”
The MPA is not involved in labor negotiations between the studios and the guilds, leaving that to the AMPTP.
But MPA officials have previously expressed concerns that if a government entity like the Copyright Office required labels on AI-generated projects, it would raise artistic freedom concerns over delving into the creative process.
At a Copyright Office listening session on AI in May, the MPA’s Ben Sheffner said, “If an applicant seeks registration of a work within the subject matter of copyright, it should not ‘look behind’ the application and inquire into how the work was created. The difficult edge cases of registrability should generally be left to the courts, which are better equipped to engage in the type of factual inquiry sometimes necessary to resolve these issues, and if the Office has some questions about whether a human or humans contributed sufficiently to the creation of a work, it should err on the side of registration.”
Meredith Stiehm, the president of the Writers Guild of America West, also is among the attendees at the forum, while some Democratic senators have expressed concerns over the protracted labor battle in Hollywood.
Rivkin’s full remarks are below.
Good morning, everyone. I would like to thank Leader Schumer, Senator Young, Senator Heinrich, Senator Rounds, and all of the senators here today for the opportunity to participate in this important forum.
At its core, we are all here this morning to talk about innovation. How to nurture and nourish it; how to safely harness its potential; how to use innovation to drive our industries, transform our economy, and shape our society.
This topic is particularly important to me in my role as Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association because for more than 100 years – starting with the very first time that silent films enthralled American audiences – innovation, and the human creativity that fuels it, has been in the DNA of the film, television, and now streaming business.
The MPA member companies are pushing the boundaries of storytelling every day. They hold up a mirror to our society and our history and showcase the best of America – our commitment to democracy, our work towards justice, and our forward-looking optimism.
The film, television, and streaming industry is one of the most unionized in America. Our industry supports millions of high-quality, middle-class American jobs, and drives our most impactful exports: our ideas, our culture, and our values. We also enjoy a positive balance of trade with almost every nation on earth. What our iconic industry delivers to audiences all over the world is a distillation of what President Biden calls “the power of our example.”
And in many ways, it is our films and TV shows that remain the most compelling way to tell America’s story both at home and abroad.
We could not accomplish any of this without a strong culture of innovation, human ingenuity, and resilience.
Change, especially the kinds of wrenching changes that come with technological innovation, is not always welcomed. No one knows this better than us. We have been hearing about our industry’s demise for more than a century. First it was talking pictures, then it was color pictures, then it was TV, then cable, the internet, the smartphone, 24-hour programming, etc.
Every member of our industry, from producers, to exhibitors, to business leaders, to union workers know in their bones that we do not evolve and grow merely to survive – but to thrive. We have always adapted to new innovations, new methods of production and distribution, new consumer expectations, and new competitors entering the market from every corner of the earth.
And so we see the potential of AI through the same prism: we see promise in its ability to enhance the filmmaking process and the audience experience. And we clearly recognize the legitimate concerns that this new technology presents. We are just beginning to understand both the upside and the downside risks of attempting to conclusively define this nascent technology. And we are working closely with our union and guild partners on this to establish common ground.
We see AI as another powerful tool in the hands of human creators. Because human creativity has, and will always be, at the heart of everything we do.
So, Senator Schumer, to be clear, my industry welcomes the opportunity to discuss legislation…legislation that seeks to address the downside risks without stifling innovation or compromising on our longstanding democratic ideals – most of all the First Amendment, which our iconic industry depends upon.
America’s future leadership – not just in the film and TV industry but in national security – will hinge on our ability to outpace and outcompete rivals who seek supremacy in this critical, emerging field.
As a former U.S. Ambassador, and Assistant Secretary of State for Economic & Business Affairs, I have seen firsthand how our values and our culture drive our nation’s unique creativity and ability to innovate.
How we regulate AI will determine whether we can preserve our technological leadership and competitive edge for decades to come.
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