George Carlin Estate Reaches Settlement Over AI Comedy Special – Rolling Stone

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The estate of late comedian George Carlin settled a lawsuit with the Dudesy podcast over an AI-generated comedy special.

On Tuesday, lawyers for the Carlin family shared that the podcast’s creators had pulled the computer-made special George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead from YouTube following a lawsuit filed in January.

“I am pleased that this matter was resolved quickly and amicably, and I am grateful that the defendants acted responsibly by swiftly removing the video they made,” Carlin’s daughter Kelly said in a statement. “While it is a shame that this happened at all, I hope this case serves as a warning about the dangers posed by AI technologies and the need for appropriate safeguards not just for artists and creatives, but every human on earth.”

Back in January, Carlin‘s estate filed a lawsuit against Dudesy for the unauthorized use of the comedian’s copyrighted works. The lawsuit denounced the special as “a piece of computer-generated click-bait which detracts from the value of Carlin’s comedic works and harms his reputation,” adding, “It is a casual theft of a great American artist’s work.”

Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen, who host the Dudesy podcast and YouTube show, were named as defendants. 20 John Does were also named, with five listed as creators of the AI program and 15 as individuals or entities who “contributed to the creation, production and sponsorship” of the AI-generated special.

“This settlement is a great outcome for our clients and will serve as a blueprint for resolving similar disputes going forward where an artist or public figure has their rights infringed by AI technology,” read a statement from the estate’s attorney Joshua Schiller. “Our goal was to resolve this case expeditiously and have the offending videos removed from the internet so that we could preserve Mr. Carlin’s legacy and shine a light on the reputational and intellectual property threat caused by this emerging technology.”

“The world has begun to appreciate the power and potential dangers inherent in AI tools, which can mimic voices, generate fake photographs, and alter video,” the attorney added. “This is not a problem that will go away by itself. It must be confronted with swift, forceful action in the courts, and the AI software companies whose technology is being weaponized must also bear some measure of accountability.”

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At the beginning of the special, an AI-generated version of Carlin’s voice states 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.”

The suit alleged that the defendants’ “unauthorized” use of his works resulted in copyright infringement and violation of the comedian’s right of publicity, accusing the “hour-long fake comedy show” of purporting to be “in George Carlin’s voice and reflect how Carlin would have commented on current events since his death in 2008.”

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