New senate bill proposes to punish makers of AI-generated deepfakes

Unauthorized artificial intelligence-powered recreations of people’s voices and images would be banned under a proposed bill by a bipartisan group of United States senators.

In an Oct. 11 press release, Democratic Senators Chris Coons and Amy Klobuchar, along with Republican Senators Marsha Blackburn and Thom Tillis, released a discussion draft of the Nurture Originals, Foster Art, and Keep Entertainment Safe (NO FAKES) Act.

Companies or individuals that create an unauthorized AI replica of someone — living or dead — would be liable for damages under the act along with platforms that knowingly host unauthorized AI copycats. Penalties would start at $5,000 per violation.

The bill allows for limited uses of unauthorized AI replicas protected by the First Amendment, including those used for news, as part of documentaries or for “comment, criticism, scholarship, satire, or parody.”

“Creators around the nation are calling on Congress to lay out clear policies regulating the use and impact of generative AI,” said Senator Coons in a statement. “Congress must strike the right balance to defend individual rights, abide by the First Amendment, and foster AI innovation and creativity.”

Senator Blackburn added the bill is a “good first step” to protect songwriters, actors, and U.S. creatives, who “deserve the right to own their name, image, and likeness (NIL).”

The draft bill comes amid a surge in songs created with the help of AI tools that emulate artists with hundreds hosted on streaming platforms such as YouTube and SoundCloud.

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The track “Heart on my sleeve” by anonymous TikTok user “ghostwriter977” used AI vocals of artists Drake and The Weeknd and went viral earlier this year, garnering millions of views before it was struck from the platform.

AI-generated likenesses have also been a friction point in the Hollywood actor strikes and negotiations — with the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) union backing the proposal.

On Oct. 11, SAG-AFTRA said negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) broke down, claiming the latter refused to “protect performers from being replaced by AI,” among other reasons.

In a statement the same day, the AMPTP said “it is clear that the gap between the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA is too great, and conversations are no longer moving us in a productive direction.”

On Sept. 27, the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) ended its strike after nearly five months following the union reaching a deal with the AMPTP on AI usage in writer’s rooms, along with higher wages and fairer contracts.

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