Effective on July 1, 2024, the Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security (ELVIS) Act will amend Tennessee’s Personal Rights Protection Act of 1984 to explicitly include protections for songwriters, performers, and music industry professionals’ voice from misuse of artificial intelligence (AI).

It is no secret that the rapid growth of AI is a force to be reckoned with, especially in the creative sector. AI has patently accelerated the music industry towards the future. The new technology routinely simplifies music production, such as enhancing an artist’s voice (i.e., Auto-Tune) or mix and master recordings. However, AI is now able to convincingly impersonate recording artists, or create “voice clones,” without the artist’s consent.

The issue of “voice clones” came to the forefront when the 2023 song Heart of My Sleeve went viral on TikTok. The song allegedly featured Drake and The Weeknd—but the famous hip-hop and R&B artists allegedly had nothing to do with the song’s release. A TikTok user, by the name Ghostwriter, created the viral song using AI technology to mimic the artists’ voices. Soon thereafter, more AI songs emerged like Johnny Cash “covering” the song Barbie Girl, Bad Bunny, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Bieber “collaborating” on the AI track Demo #5: Nostalgia, and Frank Sinatra “singing” ensemble to Hallelujah.  

The rise of “voice clones” sparked a genuine concern: how can recording artists maintain control over their vocal likeness in the new age of AI?

Currently, there are no federal regulations of AI. There is also no federal-level right of publicity. States are free to enact legislation to enforce an individual’s ownership over their name, image, likeness, and voice—however, there lacks uniformity among the states to shape this right.

Tennessee will become the first state to implement legislation aimed to protect artists and musicians from unauthorized use by AI. The ELVIS Act affirmatively declares that Tennessee residents have a property right in not only their name, image, and likeness, but also their voice in any manner. The remedies under the Act include injunctive relief, destruction of materials found be violation of the Act, and actual damages.

The ELVIS Act signals a dynamic shift in how intellectual property can keep up with the evolution of AI to ensure the protection of individual rights. While the ELVIS Act protects only Tennessee residents, this legislation nevertheless paves the way for the expansion of name, image, and likeness rights to explicitly protect artists’ ownership over their voice across the entertainment sector.