The estate of late comedian George Carlin is suing the creators of a comedy “special” that used AI to recreate his persona.
Posted on YouTube in early January, the AI-generated George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead was scripted and presented by comedy AI Dudesy, steered by humans Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen. The hour-long video doesn’t actually feature the real comedian, who died in 2008. Instead, it’s an AI-generated impersonation of Carlin talking about “the topics I think the comedy legend would be talking about today.” Currently, the video has over half a million views.
The lawsuit, filed on Thursday in federal court in Los Angeles, accuses the video’s creators of copyright infringement, saying they didn’t have permission to use Carlin’s likeness or material, including his albums and comedy standup specials, which the AI was trained on. The lawsuit describes the video as “computer-generated click-bait which detracts from the value of Carlin’s comedic works and harms his reputation.”
“It is a casual theft of a great American artist’s work,” it reads.
AI George Carlin releases comedy special that real George Carlin would’ve despised
In the filing, Carlin’s estate also said the AI-generated video “may also deter younger audiences, who are unfamiliar with George Carlin, from engaging with his real work that is his legacy,” and that the creators also infringed on copyright in their promotion of the “special” on the Dudesy podcast and its social media accounts.
The estate is suing for damages and demands the creators take down the video from all platforms and destroy any copies.
“The Dudesy Special is a bastardization of Carlin’s real work and his legacy,” reads the filing. “George Carlin, if he were alive today, may well have commented upon the topics discussed in the Dudesy Special, but he would have had control over what those comments were.”
“The Dudesy Special is a bastardization of Carlin’s real work and his legacy.”
In the video in question, the AI claims the impersonation is “developed in the exact same way a human impressionist would…I 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.” As Mashable’s Tim Marcin writes, “The Dudesy special is a voice-accurate copy of Carlin, not adding context but rather trying to resurrect a ghost. It’s a weird, less funny version of Carlin.”
Carlin’s daughter, Kelly, posted a thread on Twitter/X following the video’s release. “My dad spent a lifetime perfecting his craft from his very human life, brain and imagination. No machine will ever replace his genius,” she wrote.
Tweet may have been deleted
The lawsuit is just the latest fiasco in AI and copyright and follows the major conversations around AI and writers sitting at the heart of the recent Hollywood strikes.