George Carlin Estate Sues AI Show: 'Theft of an American Legend's Art'



by ZAIN UL ABEDIN

George Carlin Estate Sues AI Show: 'Theft of an American Legend's Art'
© Matti Holden/Youtube

In a groundbreaking legal move, the estate of iconic comedian George Carlin has filed a lawsuit against Dudesy, an online media company, for creating an AI-generated comedy special that allegedly infringes on the late comedian's rights.

The lawsuit, lodged in a Los Angeles federal court, claims that Dudesy's special, titled “George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead,” is a "poorly-executed facsimile" that fails to capture the essence of Carlin’s unique style and violates his right to publicity and copyright.

The special, crafted by Dudesy founders Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen, features an hour-long performance by a "comedy AI." This AI, in an introduction posted on YouTube, clarifies that it is not George Carlin, but an impersonation developed much like a human impressionist, mirroring Carlin's voice, cadence, and thematic interests.

However, Carlin's estate, including his daughter Kelly Carlin, contends that this technological mimicry does not constitute a legitimate or respectful tribute to the late comedian, renowned for his "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television."

Carlin Estate's AI Challenge

Kelly Carlin, in a poignant statement accompanying the lawsuit, reflects on her father's legacy, emphasizing the irreplaceable nature of his talent and the extensive body of work he left behind.

She criticizes the AI representation as a distortion of her father's legacy, underscoring the difference between genuine artistic expression and artificial imitation. This lawsuit is particularly significant in the context of new AI regulations established following last year’s Hollywood writers' strike.

These rules grant Hollywood writers substantial control over the use of generative AI tools in TV and movie scripts. Josh Schiller, the attorney representing Carlin’s estate, highlights the broader implications of the case, stressing that it addresses not just the use of AI, but the ethical and legal responsibilities of those who employ such technology in creative fields.

The estate's legal action seeks not only unspecified damages but also the immediate removal of any video or audio copies of the special. As the debate over AI's role in the arts intensifies, this case represents a crucial juncture in determining the balance between technological innovation and the preservation of artistic integrity.

The response from Dudesy's Sasso and Kultgen is eagerly anticipated, as the entertainment industry and legal observers closely watch this unfolding drama.