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Tennessee and EU Pass AI Acts to Protect the Rights of Artists and Citizens

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In response to the increasing threat of AI on various industries and public safety, lawmakers in Tennessee and the EU Parliament have each passed acts to regulate AI. While the EU law focuses on broader challenges, the Tennessee law specifically aims to protect the rights of artists.

AI laws to regulate

AI is a hot topic in the music industry. Although some support and enjoy using AI services, many artists and industry professionals seem to hold grievances towards the tech industry and its rapid, disrupting innovations.

Only a few days ago, the UK's music trade association BPI threatened to sue the AI voice cloning service Jammable (formerly for allowing users to (mis)use the voices of famous artists. Although such services can sometimes allow for funny content, they also have the potential to distort the image of artists or create songs using their voices without their permission or monetary benefits for musicians.

BPI's concerns are shared by other institutions, including the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which continues raising concerns about copyright infringement, counterfeiting, and music piracy. Now, the Government of Tennessee and the EU Parliament have passed AI acts to protect artists' rights and regulate artificial intelligence in music.

Tennessee lawmakers pass ELVIS Act

On March 21, 2024, Tennessee lawmakers passed the Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security (ELVIS) Act in response to the concerns raised by artists and the music industry. The state had previously relied on a law protecting artists' names, image, and likeliness. However, it did not take into account how to deal with generative AI voice cloning models.

The act is considered the first legislation to combat copyright infringement and the impersonation and exploitation of artists and their voices. In an official press release, the Tennessee government explains that "Artists and musicians at all levels are facing exploitation and the theft of their integrity, identity, and humanity. This threatens the future of Tennessee's creators, the jobs that they support across the state and country, and the bonds between fans and their favorite bands."

The act has received much support from various industry members and institutions, including the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Mitch Glazier, Chairman & CEO of the organization, says: "We applaud Tennessee’s swift and thoughtful bipartisan leadership against unconsented AI deepfakes and voice clones and look forward to additional states and the US Congress moving quickly to protect the unique humanity and individuality of all Americans."

EU Parliament approves the Artificial Intelligence Act

Similarly, the EU Parliament has approved the Artificial Intelligence Act to ensure safety and compliance with fundamental rights without hampering innovation. The act addresses broader challenges and concerns related to data protection and public safety. For example, it will ban AI applications that allow for biometric categorization, emotion recognition, and social scoring or tools that manipulate human behavior, among other things.

Internal Market Committee co-rapporteur Brando Benifei explains: “We finally have the world’s first binding law on artificial intelligence, to reduce risks, create opportunities, combat discrimination, and bring transparency. Thanks to Parliament, unacceptable AI practices will be banned in Europe and the rights of workers and citizens will be protected.”

While this particular act does not specifically focus on music, it may help artists safeguard their rights as it aims to ensure more transparency. According to the official press release, “artificial or manipulated images, audio or video content (“deepfakes”) need to be clearly labeled as such.” Since artists are often the victims of deepfakes, the act will at least protect them by obligating AI users to be transparent about the content they generate and share.

Moreover, citizens will have the right to submit complaints, which may allow for more protection of musicians who want AI-generated content removed from online platforms. The regulation is expected to be adopted before the end of the legislature and enter into force step by step.

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