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Tennessee Becomes First State to Enact Law That Protects Musicians From AI

Tennessee became the first state in the country to adopt a law aimed at protecting creative artists from the misuse of their voices, images and likenesses Thursday.

Gov. Bill Lee signed the ELVIS Act — short for Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security — at Robert’s Western World, a honky-tonk in Nashville with musicians Chris Janson, Luke Bryan, JesseLee Jones and Emily Ann Jones, along with Recording Industry Association of America CEO Mitch Glazier on hand.

Bryan spoke during the signing ceremony about the importance of AI protections in the music industry, The Tennessean reported. The “This Is How We Roll” singer said that managers are coming to him after hearing AI recordings of their artists and are unable to tell if they are actual recordings or fakes.

“I’ve just gotten to where stuff comes in of my voice on my phone, and I can’t tell it’s not me. It’s a real deal,” Bryan said.

Jensen told the crowd that AI could infect the entire industry in a way that makes it impossible to tour – and feed his kids.

“People can’t come to shows and hear live music if we don’t put a stop to the fakeness,” the “Drunk Girl” singer said. “We came to a real city to make real music for real people.”

“The darkness in the AI world always comes to light with realness and reality,” Janson said, The Tenessean reported. “What do they say in this town? The best song always wins.”

Lee explained in a press release that Tennessee’s existing law protected name, image and likeness, but it didn’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,”

“Artists and musicians at all levels are facing exploitation and the theft of their integrity, identity, and humanity,” the governor said.

The law builds upon existing state rules aimed at protecting against the unauthorized use of someone’s name, image and likeness by adding “voice” to its protections.

“The rapid advancement of AI is exciting in many ways, but it also presents new challenges – especially for singers, songwriters, and other music professionals,” Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson said in the release.

“While we support the responsible advancement of this technology, we must ensure we do not threaten the future livelihood of an entire industry,” added House Majority Leader William Lamberth.

Glazier applauded Tennessee’s effort, and urged more states and the US Congress to move quickly on similar legislation. The law was also supported by the Academy of Country Music, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, SAG-AFTRA and a host of other industry groups.

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