ELVIS Act signed into law in Tennessee to protect artists’ voice and likeness from the misuse of AI

Credit: Getty Images for Human Artistry Campaign
Pictured (L-R): House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-44), Luke Bryan, Governor Bill Lee, Chris Janson, RIAA CEO/Chairman Mitch Glazier & State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson

The creative community in the United States has applauded Tennessee’s adoption of the “Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security (ELVIS) Act”.

The bipartisan ELVIS Act was signed into law on Thursday (March 21) by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee at a hony-tonk in Nashville.

The ELVIS Act will officially go into effect on July 1 and will update the state’s existing right of publicity.

The bill was introduced in January to update Tennessee’s Protection of Personal Rights law, to include protections for songwriters, performers, and music industry professionals’ voices from the misuse of artificial intelligence (AI).

The office of Governor Bill Lee noted in a press release that, “while Tennessee’s existing law protects name, image and likeness, it doesn’t specifically address new, personalized generative AI cloning models and services that enable human impersonation and allow users to make unauthorized fake works in the image and voice of others”.

The statement added: “Artists and musicians at all levels are facing exploitation and the theft of their integrity, identity, and humanity. This threatens the future of Tennessee’s creators, the jobs that they support across the state and country, and the bonds between fans and their favorite bands.”

The ELVIS Act is described as the first legislation of its kind in the US to build upon existing state rules protecting against the unauthorized use of someone’s likeness by adding “voice” to the realm it protects.

“Fittingly named after one of the world’s most iconic voices, the ELVIS Act marks a history-defining moment – protecting us all from irresponsible and unethical AI. The Human Artistry Campaign applauds this strong, bipartisan effort to stop unauthorized AI-generated deepfakes and voice clones that steal essential parts of our individuality,” said Dr. Moiya McTier, Human Artistry Campaign Senior Advisor.

“The life’s work and irreplaceable contributions of the creative community to our culture deserve safeguards that allow AI technology to be used responsibly without violating anyone’s rights or appropriating their art.”

American Idol judge Luke Bryan addressed the crowd in Nashville on Thursday, saying: “What an amazing precedent to set for the state of Tennessee. The leaders of this showing artists who are moving here following their dreams that our state protects what we work so hard for, and I personally want to thank all of our legislators and people who made this bill happen. It’s hard to wrap your head around what is going on with AI, but I know the ELVIS Act will help protect our voices.”

Also on Thursday, various members of the Human Artistry Campaign issued statements in support of Tennessee’s adoption of the ELVIS Act.

“In this rapidly advancing technological landscape, Tennessee’s swift action on the ELVIS Act represents a crucial advancement for protection within the music sector,” said Dr. Richard James Burgess MBE, A2IM (American Association of Independent Music), President & CEO.

“It’s encouraging to witness such forward-thinking action to defend the unique qualities of our musicians from AI’s mimicry. This law is not merely about safeguarding personal rights; it’s a move to preserve the authenticity and the very spirit of music for generations to come. The initiative by Governor Lee to champion the ELVIS Act is a commendable stride towards maintaining music’s genuine essence.”

Jen Jacobsen, ARA (Artist Rights Alliance), Executive Director, said: “Artist Rights Alliance thanks Governor Lee and the Tennessee legislature for championing this landmark new law that will curb the destructive practice of AI deepfakes and voice clones. The ELVIS Act is a model for how to protect the very essence of an artist’s craft — their voice and likeness — and promote the responsible and ethical use of AI.”

Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, BMAC (Black Music Action Coalition), Co-Founder, President & CEO, said: “Black Music Action Coalition supports this first-of-its-kind legislation, as the misuse of AI could devastate Black music creators who already face an uphill battle. Our priority is to amplify the larger justice movement in the music industry, and we commend Tennessee for setting the standard in AI protection legislation. We hope to see other states follow in Tennessee’s lead in order to protect the creative community.”

Susan Genco, MAC (Music Artists Coalition), Board Member, said: “Music Artists Coalition (MAC) is very grateful to Tennessee and Governor Lee for The Elvis Act! Tennessee’s leadership in protecting musical artists against the urgent threat of AI deepfakes is especially fitting given the state’s deep musical history and the all-incredible Tennessee artists who call the state home.”

Bart Herbison, NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International), Executive Director, said:  “The ELVIS Act was the first legislation to put important guardrails around music created using Artificial Intelligence (AI). The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) was proud to play a role in its adoption and we hope this becomes a template for similar federal legislation and a starting point for other important protections for creators when it comes to AI. We thank Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson and House Majority Leader William Lamberth for their leadership in the unanimous passage of the ELVIS Act.”

David Israelite, NMPA (National Music Publishers’ Association), President & CEO, said:  “The Elvis Act is an important step forward in the fight to value songwriters and artists in the age of AI. Impersonating creators is the ultimate theft and this lays the groundwork for strong protections against unethical imitations. We’ve already seen the potential of voice replication and it is essential that we codify parameters before it becomes an even greater threat to the integrity of music.”

 Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, said: “The Recording Academy celebrates the passage of the ELVIS Act as a groundbreaking achievement in the effort to protect human creators in the age of AI. This milestone represents the power of collaboration, and it was a privilege to work with our partners in the Human Artistry Campaign, Governor Lee, and the Tennessee state legislature to move the ELVIS Act forward. Today is just the beginning — as AI continues to develop, the Recording Academy and our members will continue to support meaningful legislation across the country that uplifts music people and human creativity.”

Mitch Glazier, RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), Chairman & CEO, said: “This incredible result once again shows that when the music community stands together, there’s nothing we can’t do. We applaud Tennessee’s swift and thoughtful bipartisan leadership against unconsented AI deepfakes and voice clones and look forward to additional states and the US Congress moving quickly to protect the unique humanity and individuality of all Americans.”

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA, National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator, added: “SAG-AFTRA applauds Governor Lee for leading the nation in instituting meaningful protections against the misappropriation of voice and likeness by artificial intelligence. We hope this legislation will serve as a model for policymakers across the country and offer the support of our members who work across the music, television, film, broadcast and video game industries. SAG-AFTRA is focused on protecting its members’ images, voices, and likenesses from being replicated by AI without their informed consent and fair compensation. The ELVIS Act is an important step in this direction.”

Dina LaPolt, Songwriters of North America (SONA), Board Member, said: “In this ever-changing world of technology, protecting the authenticity of creative works is more important than ever. The Songwriters of North America (SONA) are grateful for Tennessee’s timely action on the ELVIS Act. The legislation is a positive move toward protecting the creativity of songwriters and artists, and preserving the craft for the many future generations of creators to come.”

In January, leading voices in the music industry and other creative fields lauded the introduction of a bill in the US House of Representatives that aims to protect people from having their image and voice used in AI-generated deepfakes.

The No Artificial Intelligence Fake Replicas And Unauthorized Duplications (No AI FRAUD) Act was brought forward on January 10 by a bipartisan group of House Representatives led by Democrat Rep. Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania and Republican Rep. Maria Salazar of Florida.

The bill goes a long way to establishing a “right of publicity” at the federal level in the United States.Music Business Worldwide