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| 1 minute read

Tennessee Leads the Charge in Codifying Legislation to Combat AI Misuse

On Thursday, March 21, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed into law a bill amending Tennessee's right of publicity statute, the “Personal Rights Protection Act of 1984” (TN Code § 47-25-1101 (2021) et seq.) to specifically address AI.  Now titled the "Ensuring Likeness, Voice, and Image Security Act of 2024” (or “ELVIS Act,” a nod to one of Tennessee's most renowned legacy artists), the legislation codifies that: “A person is liable to a civil action if the person distributes, transmits, or otherwise makes available an algorithm, software, tool, or other technology, service, or device, the primary purpose or function of which is the production of an individual's photograph, voice, or likeness without authorization…”   

In addition, the statute was updated to expressly recognize “voice” as an element of persona, a protection especially important for songwriters, performers and music industry professionals. Notably, Tennessee's music industry is reportedly responsible for over 60,000 jobs and over $5 billion in GDP.

This development is a meaningful victory for artists and creators, who will now have a statutory basis to enforce against the unauthorized use of persona through AI, and access to remedies including injunctive relief, impounding and destruction of materials used in connection with the rights violation, actual damages and profits attributable to the unauthorized use or infringement. As the ELVIS Act recognizes post-mortem rights of publicity, executors and heirs of non-living artists may also use the statute to enforce against AI misuse.

Now that Tennessee has set the tone, it will be interesting to see if other artist-friendly states such as California and New York will follow suit.

“From Beale Street to Broadway, to Bristol and beyond, Tennessee is known for our rich artistic heritage that tells the story of our great state,” said Gov. Lee. “As the technology landscape evolves with artificial intelligence, we’re proud to lead the nation in proposing legal protection for our best-in-class artists and songwriters.”


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