Senators propose to outlaw unauthorized, AI-made replicas to protect artists

Four senators are proposing a new law to stop people from using artificial intelligence tools to create replicas of others’ images and voices amid concerns that artists need special protection from burgeoning technology.

The Nurture Originals, Foster Art, and Keep Entertainment Safe Act intends to restrict the production and distribution of AI-generated imitations without people’s consent, according to the four senators.

“Generative AI is opening doors to new artistic possibilities, but we need policies that prevent unauthorized recreations of voice & likeness,” Sen. Chris Coons, a co-sponsor of the bill, said on X.

The Delaware Democrat said Thursday that Congress needs to balance people’s First Amendment rights to freedom of expression with new AI regulation, and the NO FAKES Act is an effort to make clear rules.

The NO FAKES Act would make people who create and share AI-generated replicas liable for damages, according to Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s office. The penalty would be a minimum of $5,000 per violation, according to draft legislation shared by the Tennessee Republican.

“Songwriters, actors, and our incredibly talented creative community deserve the right to own their name, image, and likeness (NIL),” Ms. Blackburn said in a statement. “This legislation is a good first step in protecting our creative community, preventing AI models from stealing someone’s NIL, and ensuring that those rights are given primary consideration under the law.”

The entertainment industry’s labor leaders are supportive of the senators’ effort. SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher applauded the effort from Mr. Coons, Ms. Blackburn, and Sens. Thom Tillis, North Carolina Republican and Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat.

“A performer’s voice and their appearance are all part of their unique essence, and it’s not OK when those are used without their permission,” Ms. Drescher said. “Consent is key, and I’m grateful that Sens. Coons, Blackburn, Klobuchar and Tillis are working to give performers recourse and providing tools to remove harmful material.”

The bill will face scrutiny from digital speech advocates who fought regulation of social media companies’ content amid concerns about restrictions of online expression.

Ms. Blackburn’s office said the bill provides exclusions for representations of individuals in works that the senators deem as protected by the First Amendment, including parody, criticism, commentary, sports broadcasts, and other things.

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