Tennessee has become the first US state to implement a law protecting musicians from artificial intelligence

Written by Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a bill into law on Thursday aimed at protecting artists, including musicians, from unauthorized use by artificial intelligence.

This legislation is called the Ensuring Audio Similarity and Image Security (ELVIS) Act.

Why is it important

While the presence of AI in the music industry can be traced back to the 1950s, recent pioneering developments in generative AI, where robots now make music like digital pop stars, have divided opinions in the industry. Many experts say AI raises legal and ethical concerns.

Generative AI became popular last year thanks to the language system ChatGPT, and is able to generate content including original voices, lyrics, or entire songs on its own, but artists often use simpler AI to improve their sound.

Key quotes

The Tennessee legislation updates the Tennessee Personal Rights Protection Act to include “protecting songwriters, performers, and the voice of music industry professionals from misuse of artificial intelligence,” the governor's office said in a statement.

Tennessee's music industry supports more than 61,617 jobs across the state, contributes $5.8 billion to the gross domestic product, and operates more than 4,500 music venues, according to the governor's office.

Tennessee's pre-existing law protected name, image, and likeness, but did not specifically address new generative AI and personality cloning models and services that enable human impersonation and allow users to make unauthorized forgeries in the image and voice of others.

Context

More broadly, the rise of artificial intelligence has fueled a host of other fears as well, including fear that it could be used to disrupt the democratic process, encourage fraud or job losses. Europe is ahead of the United States in terms of AI regulations, with lawmakers there drafting the rules.

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The administration of Democratic US President Joe Biden is pressuring lawmakers to regulate artificial intelligence, but the polarized US Congress, where Republicans control the House of Representatives and Democrats control the Senate, has made little progress in approving effective regulation.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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