The King is Back (in the Digital Era) | The ELVIS Act, Generative AI and Right of Publicity

In a bold move, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed the Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security ("ELVIS") Act, extending right of publicity protections to musicians' and others' voices from the misuse of AI. 
Effective from July 1, 2024, the Act introduces notable provisions, including holding individuals liable for the distribution of AI tools that create unauthorized fake works in the voice or likeness of others. 

This Act is one of the first to address AI-related right of publicity issues in the generative AI ("genAI") era. New developments in genAI have raised legal concerns, leading to litigations on various IP infringement issues, copyright suits, and right of publicity cases. 

The ELVIS Act represents an essential regulatory response, reflecting the growing accessibility of genAI technology for voice replication and its potential to infringe on individuals' publicity rights. Notably, the ELVIS Act creates a cause of action against those who distribute technology with the primary function of producing identifiable individuals' voices or likenesses without consent. Recent litigations involving unauthorized use of AI tools for voice and image replication have garnered attention, highlighting the legal challenges arising from the use of genAI technology. 

These cases include disputes over AI voice impersonation and the use of individuals' images and likenesses in face-swapping apps. Such litigations have raised questions about the commercialized use of genAI content, potentially constituting false endorsement under certain laws. 

The regulatory landscape surrounding genAI is evolving, with several states passing laws to address deepfakes and related protections for consumers. Notably, Utah and Colorado have enacted laws covering the use of genAI, demonstrating a growing interest in regulating AI systems and technologies. 

Furthermore, discussions in Congress, including the NO FAKES Act, indicate a federal initiative to establish new digital-replica rights and prohibit unauthorized digital replicas. 
As the legal environment navigates the implications of AI technologies, lawmakers face the challenge of balancing innovation with the protection of individuals' publicity rights. 

While some states have amended laws to address the use of AI tools to exploit an individual's identity, uncertainties remain, leaving the legal landscape susceptible to right of publicity litigations. 
Thus, continued monitoring and reporting on genAI's impact and regulatory developments are essential as the technology continues to evolve.

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