George Carlin’s Estate Sues Since AI Fake Comedy Was No Laughing Matter

George Carlin’s Estate Sues Since AI Fake Comedy Was No Laughing Matter

The Estate of George Carlin (the Estate) is suing an alleged state-of-the-art entertainment AI (artificial intelligence) company called Dudesy, LLC and its comedians, Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen, and others for the use of Carlin’s voice and sense of humor using AI without the consent of the Estate resulting in copyright infringement and deprivation of right of publicity for use of his name and likeness to profit.  The plaintiff (the Estate) claims the podcast and video was not creative – it was only AI – generated as stated at the beginning of the podcast. The suit says the video is an “unlawful appropriation” of Carlin’s identity through the unauthorized use of the late comedian’s catalogue of work to seemingly train AI to be like Carlin.

The video, called “George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead”, stated that it attempted to resurrect Carlin with the use of modern technology. 

Carlin’s past shows and interviews were listened to as well as his voice, cadence, attitude and subject matters so that the AI comedian could imitate him, but the Estate claims it was just the use of algorithms through AI technology to be like Carlin.  The comedy special discussed topics such as mass shootings, trans athletes and billionaires’ wealth.  It is possible that AI could even use a comedy script and upload it into an AI voice generator so it could seem like Carlin was speaking.  On advertisements, Dudesy used Carlin’s photo.

A spokesperson for Dudesy host Will Sasso said it was a fictional podcast character created by two human beings written by Kultgen. If it was created work, it might be protected under the 1st amendment. This lawsuit for a AI generated video creation is likely the beginning of other lawsuits for the use of name, image and likeness through the deprivation of right of publication as well as copyright infringement if strictly created by AI. The right of publicity is governed by state law.  However, the novelty of AI may result in the need of a national law.

Artificial intelligence was a key issue in the strike by Hollywood actors and writers that concluded last year due to the concern that AI could recreate performances or writings.  The strike was settled when AI reproduction could only be used with informed consent and compensation to the artist.  Also part of the settlement was to create a fund to pay original performers of the work in addition to the normal residuals that have been traditionally received.  So, do comedian’s voices, mannerisms, etc., have the same artistic rights as musicians and writers?

Dudesy neither received nor requested the consent or permission of the Estate nor did it pay the Estate of George Carlin for any copyright usage or use of Carlin’s voice or name, image or likeness.

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