US Senators Tout Bill Prohibiting AI From Stealing the Likeness or Work of Artists

The proposed “No Fakes Act” — strongly advocated by the entertainment industry — would “protect the image, voice, and visual likeness of individuals”

AI Artificial Intelligence
(Getty, Christopher Smith/TheWrap)

The U.S. Senate is working on a bill to prevent the use of artificial intelligence to steal appearances or voices of singers, actors and other artists for profit.

The bill, announced by four senators Thursday, coined as No Fakes (Nurture Originals, Foster Art and Keep Entertainment Safe Act), is supported by Hollywood creatives who have expressed concerns that their likenesses can be stolen by AI. The measure, endorsed by Democrats and Republicans, would ban companies or individuals from copying “the image, voice, and visual likeness of individuals” without permission from the artists.

The proposed No Fakes Act, obtained by TheWrap, asserts that artists “shall have the right to authorize the use of the image, voice, or visual likeness of the individual in a digital replica.”

During contract negotiations, SAG-AFTRA Pres. Fran Drescher has been pressing for regulations of AI that is used to snatch the work and likeness of artists. In a previous statement, she said the issue has come up during the ongoing actors’ strike.

“Once again, artificial intelligence is putting our members in jeopardy of reducing their opportunity to work,” Drescher said. “AI poses an enormous threat to these artists’ professions.”

SAG-AFTRA national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland has also expressed support for the AI regulations.

“The voice and performance capture artists who bring video game characters to life deserve a contract that reflects the value they bring to the multibillion-dollar gaming industry,” Crabtree-Ireland said. “Voice and performance capture AI are already among the most advanced uses of AI: the threat is here and it is real. Without contractual protections, the employers are asking performers to unknowingly participate in the extinction of their artistry and livelihoods.” 

The bill would hold anyone stealing art or likeness liable for damages and loss of income by the artist. The bill does allow for free speech protection, and would allow certain exceptions when “the applicable digital replica is used for purposes of comment, criticism, scholarship, satire or parody.” It also would allow exceptions for replicas that are “ used as part of a news, public affairs, or sports broadcast or report,” or as “part of a documentary, docudrama, or historical or biographical work.”

The bipartisan bill was drafted by the Senate Judiciary Committee, sponsored by Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

The committee discussed the issue at a July 12 hearing, with artists testifying how AI poses a sinister threat to their creations and livelihood.

Sen. Blackburn, a staunch supporter of the entertainment industry from Nashville to Hollywood, said in that meeting that Congress should act immediately to protect artists, since AI abilities are expanding rapidly, and already being used for artistic theft.

“We just don’t want it to become a fairly useful way to steal an artist’s work,” Blackburn said.

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