WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Familiar faces and songs cover the walls of the Washington office of U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) as “thank yous” for her work to secure copyright protections and compensation for artists.
Blackburn’s advocacy is now turning to the latest threat facing the entertainment industry: artificial intelligence.
“There is no revenue stream or compensation for things that are distributed using AI,” Blackburn said.
Blackburn joins a bipartisan group of senators to change that. Their legislation would require individuals and companies to get artists’ permission before producing or distributing digital look and sound-alikes of their work.
“So that the name, image, likeness, the voice of an entertainer could be protected,” Blackburn said.
The bill would also allow artists to collect damages from the AI-generated “fakes.”
The senators referenced a recent high-profile example where an AI-generated song was created using the likenesses of Drake and The Weeknd and streamed millions of times before disappearing.
“What it would do is put some guardrails in place,” Blackburn said.
The legislation would shield certain AI-generated replicas from liability based on First Amendment protections, including in sports broadcasts, documentaries and satire.
However, some open licensing organizations worry efforts like this could end up stifling creativity.
“Creators are very different, you know,” said Catherine Stihler, the CEO of Creative Commons. “No one is the same.”
Stihler argues not all artists are using AI to impersonate others.
“Some folks that we are working with are generating incredible new art because they’re using the tools for their own creativity,” she said.
Stihler said creators should have a choice over how much AI systems can use their work.
“Some of that comes from norms and practices rather than perhaps the heavy hand of legislation,” she said.