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April 3, 2024, 12:11 a.m.
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George Carlin Estate Settles Lawsuit Over AI-Generated Comedy Special - Variety

George Carlin's estate has settled a lawsuit regarding an AI-generated imitation of the late comedian. The creators of the imitation, the Dudesy podcast, have agreed to remove it from their YouTube channel and podcast feed. Released in January, the imitation titled "George Carlin: I'm Glad I'm Dead" claimed to be an hour-long special created by artificial intelligence. The lawsuit alleged that the special infringed upon the estate's copyrights and violated their publicity rights to Carlin's name, image, and likeness. Hosted by Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen, the Dudesy podcast promptly removed the video from their YouTube channel and deleted any mentions of Carlin from their podcast and social media accounts after being notified of the lawsuit. As part of the settlement, they are prohibited from re-uploading the video or using Carlin's image, voice, or likeness on any platform. Kelly Carlin, George Carlin's daughter, expressed her satisfaction with the resolution and the responsible actions taken by the defendants. She also emphasized the need for safeguards against AI technologies, not just for artists and creatives but for all individuals. SAG-AFTRA, the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, has been advocating for federal legislation that would make it illegal to create a fake digital replica of someone without their consent. Carlin's estate filed the lawsuit under California's right of publicity law and federal copyright infringement law.

Their attorney, Joshua Schiller, stated that the lawsuit aimed to protect Carlin's legacy and draw attention to the risks posed by emerging technologies to intellectual property. He hopes that this settlement will set a precedent for similar disputes in the future, highlighting the responsibility of AI software companies. The special was initially released on January 9, and a week later, one of the podcast hosts clarified that the script was written by a human and then used with an AI voice generator. However, the estate argued that it still constituted an unlawful appropriation of Carlin's material. Schiller intends to seek the removal of copies of the video posted by other accounts on platforms such as YouTube. However, he acknowledged that there is currently a loophole in the law, as there is no federal right of publicity, making it uncertain whether platforms would have to comply with takedown requests.

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