March 27, 2024
ELVIS Act Progresses: Tennessee House Votes to Shield Musicians from AI Abuse

ELVIS Act Progresses: Tennessee House Votes to Shield Musicians from AI Abuse

In a landmark move to safeguard musicians against potential abuse by artificial intelligence (AI), the Tennessee House Banking and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee unanimously passed a new bill on February 13th. The bill, known as the Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security Act (HB 2091), affectionately referred to as ELVIS, aims to combat unethical uses of AI, specifically targeting the unauthorized exploitation of artists’ voices, images, and likenesses.

Introduced by Tennessee’s Governor, Bill Lee, in January 2024, ELVIS has garnered widespread support from key political figures, including State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson and House Majority Leader William Lamberth. While rooted in advocacy for the state’s vibrant music community, ELVIS extends its protective umbrella to all residents of Tennessee.

The significance of ELVIS transcends its legislative framework, resonating deeply within Tennessee’s cultural and economic landscape. Nashville, the state’s capital and a hub of musical creativity, ranks among the top three locations for music industry activity in the United States. According to data from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Nashville’s music industry contributes a staggering $5.5 billion to the local economy, with a total output of $9.7 billion for the broader Nashville area.

During the subcommittee meeting, poignant testimonies underscored the urgent need for ELVIS’s implementation. Singer and actress Chrissy Metz, alongside Nashville Songwriter Association board member Jamie Moore and RIAA’s senior vice president for public policy, Jessie Richard, highlighted the profound impact of AI on the integrity of artistic expression.

Moore, emphasizing the rapid evolution of generative AI, cautioned against the potential ramifications for the music industry, stating, “When a machine can take songs born from a lifetime of my experiences and produce a record that an artist never authorized…that is theft, and we need to protect against it.”

Echoing Moore’s sentiments, Richard stressed the inclusive nature of the ELVIS Act, affirming, “All Tennesseans deserve to have their voices and likenesses protected.” ELVIS, by modernizing Tennessee law to explicitly include protections against unauthorized AI-generated recordings, sets a precedent for safeguarding creativity and intellectual property rights.

The subcommittee’s resounding approval of the ELVIS Act underscores Tennessee’s commitment to championing the rights of its creative community. This legislative milestone arrives amidst broader discussions surrounding AI ethics, with nearly 300 creatives, including Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr., voicing support for federal legislation such as the No AI Fraud Act, which aligns with ELVIS’s mission to uphold artist protections in the digital age.

As the music industry navigates the intersection of technology and creativity, the ELVIS Act stands as a beacon of hope, signaling a collective resolve to preserve the integrity and authenticity of artistic expression in Tennessee and beyond.


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