Tennessee becomes first state to pass a law protecting musicians against AI

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Tennessee Leads the Way in Protecting Musicians from AI

Tennessee has made history by becoming the first state in the United States to pass a law safeguarding musicians from the potential misuse of artificial intelligence (AI). Governor Bill Lee signed the groundbreaking legislation known as the Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security (ELVIS) Act into law, marking a significant milestone for the protection of artists’ rights.

The ELVIS Act aims to protect artists, particularly musicians, from unauthorized use by AI, which has raised legal and ethical concerns in the music industry. With the rise of generative AI capable of creating original sounds, lyrics, and entire songs independently, there has been growing apprehension about the potential misuse of AI technologies.

Under this new law, individuals can now be held liable if they publish or perform another person’s voice without permission, or if they use technology to produce an artist’s name, photographs, voice, or likeness without proper authorization. The legislation also updates Tennessee’s personal rights protection law to include specific provisions for safeguarding the voices of songwriters, performers, and music industry professionals from AI misuse.

Named in honor of iconic resident Elvis Presley, the ELVIS Act reflects the state’s commitment to upholding the rights of its artists. The legacy of Elvis Presley, whose death in 1977 sparked legal battles over unauthorized use of his name and likeness, played a significant role in shaping this legislation. This echoes the passage of the Personal Rights Protection Act in Tennessee in 1984, which ensured that personality rights extend beyond an individual’s lifetime.

The significance of this law cannot be overstated, especially in a state where the music industry plays a vital role in the economy. Tennessee’s music industry supports over 61,617 jobs, contributes $5.8 billion to the state’s gross domestic product, and thrives in more than 4,500 music venues.

While the ELVIS Act has garnered bipartisan support and unanimous approval from the Tennessee Statehouse, its effectiveness remains untested. Musicians are already expressing concerns about AI threats appearing on their devices and in recording studios. However, the enactment of this legislation signals a proactive approach to addressing emerging challenges in the digital age.

As the debate over AI regulation continues on both national and global levels, Tennessee’s pioneering efforts serve as a beacon of progress in protecting the rights and creativity of artists in the face of evolving technological landscapes.

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