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No AI FRAUD Act: A new bill in the US that provides individuals rights over their voice and other features

Under the bill, individuals can enforce their Intellectual Property rights against those who facilitate, create, and spread AI-generated content featuring their likeness or voice without their permission. But providing individuals with federal intellectual property rights can make it easier to curb creative expression, some have argued.

We missed this earlier: US lawmakers María Elvira Salazar and Madeleine Dean on January 10 introduced the No Artificial Intelligence Fake Replicas And Unauthorized Duplications (No AI FRAUD) Act, a bill aimed at protecting an individual’s likeness and voice from being used to generate AI fakes. Likeness refers to any distinguishable features of an individual such as their face.

“New personalized generative AI cloning models and services have enabled human impersonation and allow users to make unauthorized fakes using the images and voices of others. The abuse of this quickly advancing technology has affected everyone from musical artists, actors, sports professionals, and even high school students whose personal rights have been violated,” a press release from Salazar’s office stated.

The office cited examples of how AI has been misused in the past: The AI-generated song featuring Drake and The Weeknd, Johnny Cash singing Barbie Girl, a false dental plan endorsement featuring Tom Hanks, and more seriously, the nonconsensual and intimate AI deepfakes of high school girls in a New Jersey town.

The bill essentially provides individuals intellectual property (IP) rights over their likeness and voice, because of which it covers a broad range of content from AI-generated imitations of artists to non-consensual, sexually explicit deepfakes. Individuals can enforce their IP rights against those who facilitate, create, and spread AI-generated content featuring their likeness or voice without their permission.

What are some arguments against this bill?

While the music and film industries, including well-known singers like Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, 21 Savage, and others, have welcomed the No AI FRAUD Act, critics have pointed out that the bill is overbroad because it covers a wide range of content. The bill itself includes a section that takes into account the freedom of speech granted under the First Amendment, but critics aren’t convinced.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown, writing for Reason, has pointed out that the bill is broad enough to cover reenactments in a true-crime show, a parody TikTok account, depictions of a historical figure in a movie, sketch-comedy skits such as those by Saturday Night Live (SNL), political cartoons, and cartoons like South Park or Family Guy that include depictions of a celebrity.

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The Electonic Frontier Foundation has further argued the following against the bill:

  1. Intermediaries are at risk of facing litigation: Because it provides individuals with federal intellectual property rights, it puts “intermediaries that host AI-generated content squarely in the litigation crosshairs” as Section 230 immunity does not apply to federal IP claims. “That, in turn, is bad news for almost everyone—including performers. If this law were enacted, all kinds of platforms and services could very well fear reprisal simply for hosting images or depictions of people—or any of the rest of the broad types of ‘likenesses’ this law covers.” Since intermediaries won’t be able to tell whether AI was involved in the generation of some content, “the best way for them to avoid that liability would be to aggressively filter user-generated content, or refuse to support it at all.”
  2. Right can be extended well beyond the death of an individual: While the bill states that the right is limited to ten years after death, “it’s combined with very confusing language suggesting that the right could extend well beyond that date if the heirs so choose.”
  3. Limits First Amendment rights: Although the bill recognises First Amendment rights, it limits those rights by requiring courts to balance any First Amendment interests “against the intellectual property interest in the voice or likeness. […] This seems to be an effort to import a cramped version of copyright’s fair use doctrine as a substitute for the rigorous scrutiny and analysis the First Amendment (and even the Copyright Act) requires.”

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