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Lawmakers to tackle artist AI replicas

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Apr 30, 2024
Illustration of a gavel icon with the handle made from a music staff covered in music notes made from zeroes and ones.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Senators on Tuesday will dig into how to protect actors, singers and other artists from AI-generated replicas made of them without consent.

Why it matters: Copyright law hasn't caught up to generative AI, and lawmakers are hoping to formally introduce the NO FAKES Act to protect Americans soon.

What's inside: The draft bill from Sens. Chris Coons, Marsha Blackburn, Amy Klobuchar and Thom Tillis under discussion at the Senate Judiciary IP panel would hold individuals or companies liable for producing the voice and visual likeness without permission.

  • Platforms would be liable for knowingly hosting unauthorized replicas.
  • Certain digital replicas would be exempted based on First Amendment protections.

What they're saying: New legislation should simplify and preempt current conflicting state regulations, Digital Media Association President Graham Davies is expected to say during the hearing.

  • Davies will say the original content creator should be held responsible and legislation should address all types of content, not just sound recordings and motion pictures.
  • DiMA says its members — which include platforms like Amazon, Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube — do not support the NO FAKES Act in its current form.
  • SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland will call for a federal IP voice and likeness right that empowers people to take down content while balancing free speech protections.

Catch up quick: After the longest strike against Hollywood studios ever, the actors union in December ratified a contract that offers some protections from AI.

  • But some artists remain concerned studios can still use AI that resembles them and their work.

What we're watching: Lawmakers are bringing in UK performer FKA Twigs, which is sure to draw more attention to the issue.

  • UK business and trade official Rupert Daniels said artists want protection from AI-generated works using their copyrighted material without compensation, and that the UK music industry is interested in the EU AI Act and its potential impact on IP rights.
  • Speaking to Axios on the sidelines of SXSW earlier this year, Daniels said the UK government is exploring the technology's benefits for creative industries, including using it to boost productivity so that artists can focus more on the creative process.

What's next: Lawmakers are looking to introduce the bill as soon as possible.

  • But they're still incorporating feedback, including from Tuesday's hearing, Coons' communications director Will Baskin-Gerwitz told Axios.
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