The ELVIS Act: Tennessee's new law to protect musicians from AI

The ELVIS Act: Tennessee's new law to protect musicians from AI

Jun 5, 2024


In a groundbreaking move, Tennessee has become the first U.S. state to pass legislation to protect musicians and vocalists from having their voices recreated or used without permission through Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies.

Slowing down AI’s capabilities

The new law, named the "ELVIS Act", was signed by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee on March 21, 2024. It updates Tennessee's existing laws to cover the unauthorized use of a person's "voice signature" or "professional vocal style" in audio or audio-visual works created with AI tools.

Pushed by music industry advocates, the ELVIS (Ensuring the Longevity of Vocalists through Identification of Signatures) Act aims to get ahead of the ethical and legal challenges posed by AI and its increasing capabilities to mimic and recreate human voices and likenesses. "As the home of countless music legends and a global music capital, Tennessee is taking the lead to protect the rights and livelihoods of artists and performers," said State Senator Marsha Blackburn, a co-sponsor of the legislation.


A major step forward

Under this new law, violators could face civil penalties up to $150,000 per offense and potential triple damages for misappropriation of a musician's vocal identity, without consent from the rights holder. Some limited exceptions are made for uses like parody, commentary, and research.

The ELVIS Act will go into effect on July 1, 2024, and while it currently only applies within Tennessee's borders, it represents a pioneering step that other states and the federal U.S. government may follow as concerns keep growing over AI's ethical deployment in all creative fields. "This law ensures musicians' vocal signatures are protected the same way their name, image, and likeness are," said Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. "It's a crucial move for artist rights and Tennessee's signature music industry."

As AI capabilities rapidly evolve, the ELVIS Act could serve as a model to balance the innovative potential of these technologies while safeguarding artists' intellectual property and identities.