George Carlin Estate Settles AI-Made Comedy Special Lawsuit (1) – Bloomberg Law

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The estate of comedian George Carlin reached an agreement to end its lawsuit against two podcasters who allegedly used artificial intelligence to create a new Carlin comedy special released on YouTube.

Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen of the comedy podcast Dudesy agreed to remove the AI-generated special from all platforms and permanently cease using his image, voice, or likeness in any future podcast without consent, according to the proposed agreement.

The case was among the first to probe the intersection of rapidly advancing AI deepfake technology and laws protecting one’s image and likeness. Unlike past AI-replica disputes involving high-profile celebrities such as the controversy over a song mimicking the voices of artists Drake and The Weeknd, the Carlin case also involves post-mortem publicity rights.

Main Sequence Ltd., owner of the late comedian’s copyrights and publicity rights, filed a joint motion with Dudesy LLC seeking a judge’s approval of the deal Tuesday in Los Angeles federal court.

The proposed settlement comes a few months after the estate sued Dudesy in the US District Court for the Central District of California.

Carlin’s daughter Kelly Carlin said in a statement that she was pleased the case was resolved “quickly and amicably.”

“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,” she said.

The Jan. 25 complaint alleged the podcasters created a Carlin-based comedy routine called “I’m Glad I’m Dead,” using AI to create the script and replicate the late stand-up comic’s voice. The routine was released it as a comedy special on Dudesy’s YouTube channel, filings said.

The lawsuit claimed violations of Carlin’s publicity rights and copyright infringement for training an AI on Carlin’s copyrighted work to mimic him.

The estate’s attorney Josh Schiller of Bois Schiller Flexner LLP said aside from the public court documents, the rest of the settlement is confidential.

“This is not a problem that will go away by itself,” Schiller said in a statement. “It must be confronted with swift, forceful action in the courts.”

Dudesy wasn’t immediately reachable for comment.

The case is Main Sequence Ltd. et al v. Dudesy LLC, C.D. Cal., No. 2:24-cv-00711, motion filed 4/2/24.

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