UK law is failing to protect performers' rights. We need to act now.

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has grown rapidly across the audio and entertainment industry in recent years, from automated audiobooks and voice assistants to deep fake videos and text to speech tools.

But UK Intellectual Property law has failed to keep pace. And this is leading to performers being exploited.

We know that:

  • Performers are having their image, voice or likeness reproduced by others, using AI technology, without their consent.
  • Because of loopholes in the law, performers are not being fairly paid for the reproduction of their work. And sometimes not paid at all.
  • Performers are kept in the dark about their rights and contracts:
    • 79% of performers who have undertaken AI work felt they did not have a full understanding of their performers’ rights (as set out in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988) before signing the contract.
    • Performers are being asked to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements without any knowledge of what the job entails.
  • 65% of performers think the development of AI technology poses a threat to employment opportunities in the performing arts sector. This figure rose to 93% for audio artists. 
  • 93% of Equity members think the Government should introduce new legal protections for performers, so that a performance cannot be reproduced by AI technology without their consent.

Artificial Intelligence could have a hugely positive impact on the entertainment industry. But we need to make sure it works for performers and not just their bosses.

What you can do

Learn more and spread the word

We will soon be calling on the government to modernise the law and strengthen rights for creatives and performers.

But first we need you to raise the alarm - with fellow creatives, Equity members and allies. Tell them about this under the radar exploitation that’s happening right now across our industry.

We are asking you to:

Use our AI guidance for artists

To help protect your rights, check our Artificial Intelligence guidance for artists on what to look out for when taking on AI work. 

We're developing further tools to equip you with the knowledge you need to protect yourself when working with AI. This will include regularly updated advice on the website, template contracts to use, sessions at the Equity conference and hosting seminars with other industry bodies.

Our commitment to Equity members

We know that AI has the potential to impact employment opportunities of our members working in both the audio and audio-visual sector. Alongside our engagement work with government, we will seek to

  • Negotiate new collectively bargained agreements with AI technology companies to protect performers’ rights and ensure payment for their performance.
  • Improve existing Film, TV and Radio collectively bargained agreements by negotiating new provisions covering performance synthetisation.
  • Work with all industry partners, agents and members to ensure that there is a system of consent and payment when historic performances are utilised by AI technologies, including after the event of a members’ death.
  • Provide a scheme of educational tools to equip our members with the knowledge and support they need to protect themselves.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

The government defines Artificial Intelligence as: “technologies with the ability to perform tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, and language translation.”

Commercial AI companies can be found across the entertainment industry including voice, modelling, music, dance, journalism, and gaming.

Examples of how AI is used: 

  • Automated audiobooks are made by replicating and reusing a performer’s voice that you have recorded.
  • Interactive avatars are created by 3D body scanning a performers’ body and manipulating their body and movement using AI.

Performance synthetisation

AI-made “performance synthetisation” is one of the ways that the technology is used in the entertainment industry. This is the process of creating a performance by manipulating the likeness of a performance or a performer. Examples include deep fake videos in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else's likeness.

Current intellectual property law does not protect performers and other stakeholders against AI-made performance synthetisation. 

Support our campaigns

Report: Stop AI Stealing the Show

Cover of the Equity AI report

Read our report investigating the use of AI in the entertainment industries. 

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We are the trade union fighting for audio artists, professional performers, and creative workers.