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George Carlin estate sues podcasters over AI-generated comedy routine

Post Time:2024-01-29 Source:Reuters Author: Blake Brittain Views:

Jan 26 (Reuters) - The estate of George Carlin has filed a lawsuit in California federal court against the podcasters behind an artificial-intelligence generated comedy special that mimics the late comedy legend's voice and material.

The estate said in the lawsuit, that actor Will Sasso, writer Chad Kultgen and their "comedy AI" podcast Dudesy violated Carlin's copyrights and publicity rights with their YouTube video "George Carlin: I'm Glad I'm Dead." Carlin died in 2008.

Representatives for the podcast could not immediately be reached for comment.

"The 'George Carlin' in that video is not the beautiful human who defined his generation and raised me with love," Carlin's daughter Kelly Carlin said in a statement. "It is a poorly-executed facsimile cobbled together by unscrupulous individuals to capitalize on the extraordinary goodwill my father established with his adoring fanbase."

The lawsuit is among the first in the entertainment world related to the issue of AI-generated "deepfakes" - convincing digital imitations of real people made possible by fast-evolving artificial intelligence technology.

The premise of Sasso and Kultgen's podcast is that it is written and controlled by an AI system named Dudesy. Sasso and Kultgen have not disclosed who made the system.

A computerized voice supposedly belonging to Dudesy says at the beginning of the Carlin "special" that it "listened to all of George Carlin's material and did my best to imitate his voice, cadence, and attitude, as well as the subject matter I think would have interested him today," which includes segments on American politics, reality television and AI itself.

The video was posted Jan. 9 and has received more than 500,000 views.

The lawsuit called the video "computer-generated click-bait" and "a casual theft of a great American artist's work."

The estate's complaint said that the video violated Carlin's name, image and likeness rights and that its makers infringed the comedian's copyrights by using his material to train the AI system.

The case is Main Sequence Ltd v. Dudesy LLC, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, No. 2:24-cv-00711.