AI Deepfakes vs the Music Industry: The ELVIS Act’s State-by-State Battle

The Tennessee Senate and House Commerce Committees have passed the Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security (ELVIS) Act, a bill designed to protect a person’s voice, image, and likeness from unethical uses of artificial intelligence (AI). The bill received unanimous bipartisan support due to Tennessee’s active music industry community. Prominent figures in the music community, such as Natalie Grant, Matt Maher, and David Hodges, testified in favor of the bill, highlighting the personal and fundamental violation that occurs when artists’ voices and likeness are used without their consent. The Recording Academy, known for the Grammy music awards, has been actively involved in advocating and defending artists’ rights in relation to AI through their Human Artistry Campaign.

AI has become a contentious issue in the music industry, with some artists embracing it while others raise concerns about violations of intellectual property and the rise of deepfakes. Todd Dupler, the chief advocacy and public policy officer of the Recording Academy, stated that one of the “easiest” AI issues to address is the use of AI-generated fakes without permission. Many states in the US have “right of publicity” laws to protect artists, but they were not written with AI in mind. Tennessee, with its strong right of publicity law, was a suitable location to introduce the ELVIS Act, named after Elvis Presley.

The Recording Academy collaborated with the governor’s office and music industry stakeholders to craft the legislation, and they are optimistic that the bill will pass the full legislature and be signed into law. Despite the controversy surrounding AI, it has brought the music industry together. The Recording Academy cites the Music Modernization Act and the Save our Stages Act as examples of successful bipartisan action in the music community. Dupler believes that similar unity can be achieved in protecting voice, image, and likeness rights with the help of AI.

Politicians and political figures are not exempt from the risks of deepfakes. In January, scammers used a deepfake of President Joe Biden’s voice in robocalls to influence a local election. If legislation is not implemented to protect voice and image rights, the repercussions could extend beyond individual artists. The ELVIS Act aims to safeguard not only creatives and public figures but also every citizen. Dupler shared the example of artist Lainey Wilson, whose likeness was used to sell weight loss gummies without her consent. This misuse of her image could mislead her young fans and distort their perceptions of her. The Recording Academy recognizes that AI has the potential to democratize music creation but emphasizes the need for regulations to establish necessary protections before the technology progresses beyond control.

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