Legal Battle Erupts as George Carlin Estate Sues Comedy Podcast for AI-Generated Impersonation

LOS ANGELES, CA – The late comedian George Carlin’s estate has filed a federal lawsuit against the comedy podcast Dudesy, alleging that the podcast produced an hour-long comedy special featuring an AI-generated impression of Carlin without permission. However, a representative for one of the hosts of the podcast now admits that the special was actually written by a human.

The lawsuit, filed by Carlin’s manager, Jerold Hamza, in a California district court, points out that the special, titled “George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead,” presents itself as being created by an AI trained on Carlin’s material. The lawsuit argues that this training involves making unauthorized copies of Carlin’s copyrighted routines, constituting a “casual theft” of Carlin’s work.

The Dudesy special claims to be an impression of Carlin generated by AI using the same techniques as a human impressionist. However, the lawsuit disputes this analogy, asserting that the AI model is an “unlawful appropriation” of Carlin’s identity and “damages the value of Carlin’s real work and his legacy.”

The use of copyrighted material in AI training models is a contentious legal issue in the field of AI. Media organizations recently testified before Congress, arguing against AI makers’ claims of “fair use” for training on news content.

Despite the presentation of the Dudesy special as an AI creation, evidence suggests that it was actually written by humans. A representative for Dudesy host Will Sasso has admitted that the YouTube video was entirely written by Chad Kultgen, one of the creators of Dudesy.

Carlin’s estate intends to proceed with the lawsuit, seeking to establish how the show was created. The lawsuit argues that even if the special was fully human-written, it still engages in unauthorized use of Carlin’s name and likeness for promotional purposes.

The lawsuit highlights that the Dudesy podcast associated itself with Carlin, utilizing his name and image to promote the special. Such association is deemed harmful to Carlin’s reputation, legacy, and the value of his real work.

The lawsuit also anticipates potential free speech defenses, asserting that the special offers no comedic or creative value without its connection to Carlin. Kelly Carlin, George Carlin’s daughter, has expressed her concern about the video, stating, “It is not George Carlin.”

The lawsuit seeks a court order to remove and destroy any copies of the special, along with punitive damages.