ELVIS Law: Tennessee, first state to protect artists against threats from artificial intelligence

Republican Governor Bill Lee signed into law the Safe Image and Voice Act.

In mid-March, Tennessee became the first state to protect artists, and specifically musicians, against the threats of artificial intelligence. Republican Governor Bill Lee signed into law the Ensuring Safety of Image and Voice Act (colloquially referred to as the ELVIS Act), a measure that updates the Personal Rights Protection Act and is supported by Elvis Presley's family:

More than 61,000 jobs in Tennessee depend on music

The regulations no longer only regulate the name, image and likeness of artists but, the governor's office said in a statement, include "protections for the voice of composers, performers and professionals in the music industry against the improper use of artificial intelligence":

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.

A law that, Bill Lee clarified, helps protect the more than 61,000 jobs generated in the state by the music industry. Activity for which, he added, more than 4,500 music venues in the region were allocated:

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. 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.

The ELVIS Act, supported by state politicians and the music industry

The rule has the support of state legislators who spoke in favor of the measure. An example of this can be seen in the words spoken by the majority leader in the House of Representatives, William Lamberth, who stated that the Elvis Law maintains "public trust" and does not jeopardize "the future livelihood of an entire industry":

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.

The music industry was also in favor of the new law. Mitch Glazier, president and CEO of the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) assured to The Tennessean that the law was further proof that "when the music community stands together, there's nothing we can't do":

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.