Tennessee Governor signs bill that protects musicians against artificial intelligence


Tennessee became the first state to protect its residents’ voice rights on Thursday when Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed the ELVIS Act, designed to protest musicians from artificial intelligence replication.

“There are certainly many things that are positive about what AI does,” Lee said. “It also, when fallen into the hands of bad actors, it can destroy this industry.”

“It can rob an individual, these individual artists to whose unique God-given gifts transform people’s lives,” he continued. “It can steal those gifts, it can impersonate those gifts, it can subsequently create fake works that rob those artists of their intellectual property.”

Lee signed the Ensuring Likeness, Voice, and Image Security Act at honky-tonk Robert’s Western World in Nashville, the city famous as the birthplace of the genre.

Concerns over artificial intelligence have run abound in the music industry, as AI-driven impersonations of singers have gone viral and raised legal scrutiny. Realistic-sounding interpretations of artists can both mimic voices and use an artist’s music to create new content.

Specifically, the law established protections for artists’ voices and created a state civil action against those who illegally use it without permission.

It’s unclear how effective the protections could be, given the mostly unregulated and quickly developing nature of artificial intelligence. The industry has also garnered attention from Congress, which has long debated how to regulate the industry.

The law adds to the state’s strong image and likeness protections, passed in 1984 amidst legal chaos following the death of Elvis Presley, sparking the nod in the 2024 bill’s title.

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