Governor Lee Signs ELVIS Act into Law to Address AI Impact on Music Industry

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photo from Governor Lee

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee was joined by legislative leadership and music industry professionals,on March 21, as he signed the Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security (ELVIS) Act, first-of-its-kind legislation updating Tennessee’s Protection of Personal Rights law to include protections for songwriters, performers, and music industry professionals’ voice from the misuse of artificial intelligence (AI).

Tennessee’s music industry supports more than 61,617 jobs across the state, contributes $5.8 billion to our GDP, and fills over 4,500 music venues.

“From Beale Street to Broadway, to Bristol and beyond, Tennessee is known for our rich artistic heritage that tells the story of our great state,” said Gov. Lee. “As the technology landscape evolves with artificial intelligence, I thank the General Assembly for its partnership in creating legal protection for our best-in-class artists and songwriters.”

While Tennessee’s preexisting law protected name, image, and likeness, it did not 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. 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 builds upon existing state rule protecting against the unauthorized use of someone’s likeness by adding “voice” to the realm it protects.

“Once again, Tennessee is leading the nation. Today, the ELVIS Act becomes the first-of-its-kind law to protect musicians from AI-generated synthetic media. The rapid advancement of AI is exciting in many ways, but it also presents new challenges – especially for singers, songwriters, and other music professionals. I was proud to work with Gov. Lee and my colleagues in the General Assembly to modernize our laws to ensure AI does not threaten the unique voices and creative content of Tennessee musicians.” -Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, R-Franklin

“The ELVIS Act puts in critical safeguards to protect the humanity and artistic expression of Tennessee innovators and creators. While we support the responsible advancement of this technology, we must ensure we do not threaten the future livelihood of an entire industry. This legislation is an important step in maintaining public trust and advancing ongoing efforts to protect and inform Tennessee consumers.” -House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland

“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.” -Mitch Glazier, Recording Industry of America (RIAA) Chairman & CEO

Additional industry groups that supported Gov. Lee’s artificial intelligence legislation include Academy of Country Music, American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), The Americana Music Association, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), Church Music Publishers Association (CMPA), Christian Music Trade Association, Folk Alliance International, Global Music Rights, Gospel Music Association, The Living Legends Foundation, Music Artists Coalition, Nashville Musicians Association, National Music Publishers’ Association, Rhythm & Blues Foundation, Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC), Songwriters of North America (SONA), The Recording Academy and Tennessee Entertainment Commission.

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