Tennessee Enacts ELVIS Act, First-Of-Its-Kind Protection For Musicians Against AI Abuse

ELVIS Act Signed to Protect Voice & Likeness in Age of AI
State Rep. William Lamberth, Luke Bryan, Gov. Bill Lee, Chris Janson, Mitch Glazier and Sen. Jack Johnson are seen at the signing of the ELVIS Act to Protect Voice & Likeness in Age of AI at Robert’s Western World on March 21, 2024 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Human Artistry Campaign)

From the stage at the famed honky-tonk Robert’s Western World on Lower Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed the ELVIS Act into law March 21, providing first-in-the-nation protections for musicians against AI deepfakes and other abuses.

The ELVIS Act — officially the Ensuring Likeness, Voice and Image Security Act — adds artists’ voices — and importantly, AI simulations of a recognizable voice — to Tennessee’s four-decade-old Protection of Personal Rights law, and provides district attorneys the ability to prosecute the unauthorized use thereof as a Class A misdemeanor and allows individuals, their estates and labels and others rights-holders the ability to seek civil damages.

Lee proposed the law in January after meetings with industry leaders and artists. The bill passed the state’s House and Senate unanimously. It becomes effective July 1.

“There are certainly many things that are positive about what AI does. It also, when fallen into the hands of bad actors, it can destroy this industry,” Lee said. “It can rob an individual, these individual artists to whose unique God-given gifts transform people’s lives. It can steal those gifts, it can impersonate those gifts, it can subsequently create fake works that rob those artists of their intellectual property. … Tennessee should lead on this issue and we are.”

The Recording Academy and others have advocated for the ELVIS Act to serve as a blueprint for other states and the federal government for AI protection.

“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,” Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said in a statement.