Tennessee Passes Law Protecting Musicians From AI Deepfakes

Tennessee became the first U.S. state to protect musicians from AI that could clone and manipulate their voices, creating deepfakes, without permission.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed the Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security (ELVIS) Act into law on Thursday, adding the unauthorized use of a person’s voice to Tennessee’s list of protected rights.

The ELVIS Act ensures that “no one will steal the voices of Tennessee artists,” Lee stated at an event announcing the bill in January.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Deepfakes are synthetic media that replicate the voices, images or other aspects of a person and use those features in new contexts. With the rapid development of generative AI, deepfakes have proliferated, including a viral track featuring the deepfake vocals of Drake and The Weeknd.

Related: Deepfake Scams Are Becoming So Sophisticated, They Could Start Impersonating Your Boss And Coworkers

Artists like Selena Gomez and Cher have weighed in on the “scary” implications of deepfakes.

“I’m telling you, if you work forever to become somebody — and I’m not talking about somebody in the famous, money part — but an artist, and then someone just takes it from you, it seems like it should be illegal,” Cher told the Associated Press.

Recently, Taylor Swift’s likeness and voice were used for a false advertising campaign for Le Creuset cookware.

Related: Taylor Swift Is the Latest Victim of an AI Deepfake as Meta Pulls False Advertisement

The “speed, scale, believability” and “access” that non-technical Internet users now possess to create highly realistic deepfakes have “all sort of combined to create this witch’s brew,” Matthew Ferraro, an attorney at WilmerHale LLP who has been following deepfake laws, told Bloomberg.

“People often talk about the slow, glacial pace of lawmaking, and this is an area where that really isn’t the case,” Ferraro stated to the outlet.

Lawmakers in other states have taken steps to address AI misuse, with at least 10 states in the U.S. enacting deepfake-related laws. Minnesota became the first state to criminalize the use of deepfakes that could influence elections and spread misinformation.

Related: AI Deepfake Video Stars Harry Potter Characters in a Controversial Fashion Brand’s Show…and Even Elon Musk Is Taken Aback

Google and Universal Music are in talks to license artists’ melodies and voices for AI songs, according to an August report from the Financial Times.

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