Senate Introduces New Bill to Penalize Creators of AI-Generated Deepfakes

A group of bipartisan United States senators has introduced a bill aimed at prohibiting unauthorized AI-generated replicas of people’s voices and images. In a press release on October 11, Democratic Senators Chris Coons and Amy Klobuchar, along with Republican Senators Marsha Blackburn and Thom Tillis, unveiled the discussion draft of the Nurture Originals, Foster Art, and Keep Entertainment Safe (NO FAKES) Act.

Under this proposed legislation, companies or individuals creating unauthorized AI replicas of living or deceased individuals would be held liable for damages. Platforms knowingly hosting such unauthorized AI copies would also face penalties, starting at $5,000 per violation. The bill does, however, allow limited uses of unauthorized AI replicas that are protected by the First Amendment, such as for news, documentaries, and purposes of comment, criticism, scholarship, satire, or parody.

Senator Coons emphasized the need for clear policies regulating generative AI, striking a balance between defending individual rights, upholding the First Amendment, and encouraging AI innovation and creativity. Senator Blackburn expressed support for the bill, considering it a crucial step toward safeguarding the rights of songwriters, actors, and U.S. creatives, ensuring they have control over their name, image, and likeness (NIL).

This legislative effort comes amidst a rise in AI-generated music, with numerous tracks utilizing AI tools to emulate popular artists being shared on platforms like YouTube and SoundCloud. One example is the viral success of the song “Heart on My Sleeve” by TikTok user “Ghostwriter977,” which used AI vocals from artists Drake and The Weeknd before being removed from the platform due to copyright issues.

The issue of AI-generated likenesses has also become a point of contention in Hollywood, particularly in actor strikes and negotiations. The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) union has supported the proposed legislation. However, negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) broke down on October 11. SAG-AFTRA cited the refusal to protect performers from being replaced by AI as one of the reasons for the impasse.

Conversely, the AMPTP stated that the gap between the two parties was too significant, and discussions were no longer progressing productively. In a separate development, the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) ended its nearly five-month-long strike on September 27 after reaching a deal with the AMPTP, addressing AI usage in writer’s rooms, along with securing higher wages and fairer contracts.

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