Beyond Name, Image, Likeness: Voice Protection

By Jack Sherwood

Artificial Intelligence has been used in the music industry for decades. As early as 2004, AI audio modulation was introduced by Yamaha to synthesize melodic vocals.[1] Even in the 2010s, AI was used to enhance the audio of voice actors who no longer had the same vocal delivery, such as the likes of James Earl Jones.[2] 20 years later, AI has evolved from simply integrating and enhancing vocal audio to composing and producing an entire Drake song from a 250-word instruction text, one that Drake himself never touched.[3] While Drake’s label, UMG, immediately issued a copyright takedown of the AI track “Heart on My Sleeve”, the damage had already been done, with streams exceeding 7 million on Twitter alone. [4] In a world where an artist can be entirely mimicked by AI in a matter of minutes, how do we provide protection?

The US Copyright Office has taken a firm stance on the ownership and copyright protections available for AI generated music: the lack of “human authorship” bars any opportunity to protect the product.[5] Thus, without copyright protection and granted ownership, the songs cannot be mass distributed and profited off of streaming services such as Spotify and YouTube.[6] This is one step in the right direction, but is this enough to stop the production of AI generated music?

Tennessee became the first state to introduce expanded regulation aimed at protecting not only an artist’s name, image, and likeness, but also their voice.[7] The Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security Act (ELVIS Act), which takes effect on July 1, 2024, will prohibit people from using AI to mimic an artist’s voice without permission.[8] This legislation has been accepted by many in the music industry, with artists and labels commending the state legislature for being on the front lines of AI copyright regulation.[9] As opposed to the US Copyright Office’s stance, which bars the ownership ability of someone making AI generated music, this act affords protections to the artist themselves. In the event of an infringement, the violation can result in a civil cause of action and criminally enforced as a Class A Misdemeanor, which carries up to a year in jail and fine up to $2,500. [10]

With laws like the ELVIS Act and a general attitude against the use of AI in music creation, where does AI fit into the industry? Its benefits are obvious. Artists have the ability to perfect their own sound and create music that is cutting edge. Despite this clear advantage, artists are more vulnerable than ever to con-artists looking to profit, without giving credit to the original artist, off of nothing but a script given to an AI generator. A total ban on AI is not the right avenue nor is it feasible. The music industry is not unique from any other. Generative AI has found a place in just about every facet of life.[11] While there is no overarching AI regulation in the US[12], it is crucial for artists, advocates, and legislators to find an answer for musicians and artists to preserve the integrity of their work while having every tool available to enhance their own sound. The ELVIS Act is a step in the right direction, ensuring that artists have final say over the use of their name, image, likeness, and voice.[13]




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[1] Water & Music, Starter Pack: Music AI Deepfakes, (last visited April 4, 2024).

[2] Id.

[3]NEW YORK TIMES, AI Is Creating a New Breed of Music Stars, But What Does That Mean for Human Artists? (Apr. 19, 2023),

[4] The Verge, Drake AI: How an AI-Generated Drake Song Went Viral on SoundCloud (Apr. 25, 2023),

[5] Kill the DJ, Copyright in AI-Generated Music (last visited Apr. 5, 2024),,the%20generative%20AI%20system%20Midjourney.

[6] Id.

[7] NPR, Tennessee Becomes the First State to Protect Artists Against AI (Mar. 22, 2024),,Tennessee%20becomes%20the%20first%20state%20to%20protect%20artists%20against%20AI,legislation%20includes%20AI%2Dspecific%20protections

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Holland & Knight, First-of-Its-Kind AI Law Addresses Deep Fakes and Voice Clones (Apr. 2024),,Violations%20of%20the%20ELVIS%20Act%20can%20be%20enforced%20in%20a,or%20fines%20up%20to%20%242%2C500.

[11] Brian Kennedy, Public Awareness of Artificial Intelligence in Everyday Life

[12] Zach Warren, Legalweek 2024,

[13] Holland & Knight, supra note 10.