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Tennessee Moves First on AI Protections with ELVIS Act

Tennessee Moves First on AI Protections with ELVIS Act
Friday, March 22, 2024

On 21 March 2024, Tennessee became the first state in the United States to prohibit unauthorized use of artificial intelligence (AI) to replicate an individual’s likeness, image, and voice when its governor signed the Ensuring Likeness, Voice and Image Security Act of 2024 (ELVIS) Act. The protections in the ELVIS Act for a person’s voice from AI misuse is particularly notable. Tennessee, like other states, already had prohibitions on unauthorized use of an individual’s likeness and image. And while some other states, such as California, have also protected a person’s voice, none had expressly linked all three—likeness, image, and voice—to AI.

As reflected by its name, the ELVIS Act had strong support from Tennessee’s music industry, which provides more than 60,000 jobs across the state. Singers and songwriters have seen the benefits of AI, with The Beatles using it to complete and publish their final song last fall, as well as its downsides, with an anonymous individual using it to simulate the voices of Drake and The Weeknd to create a song published on TikTok.

The ELVIS Act imposes civil liability on those who distribute an “algorithm, software, tool, or other technology service, or device” the primary purpose of which is the unauthorized reproduction of an individual’s “name, photograph, voice, or likeness”. The ELVIS Act provides exceptions based on certain “fair use[s]” of an individuals’ name, photograph, voice, or likeness, which include use “[i]n connection with any news, public affairs, or sports broadcast or account” and “[f]or purposes of comment, criticism, scholarship, satire, or parody,” among others uses.

The ELVIS Act bears some similarity to bills proposed in the US Senate and House of Representatives, yet none of those appear close to passage. While federal laws may one day provide both protections and uniformity in regulation, individuals seeking relief from misuse must rely on state laws. Developers and users of AI technology will need to remain vigilant to the potential patchwork of differing state regulations that could impact their products and services.

Copyright 2024 K & L Gates