George Carlin’s estate reaches settlement over AI special impersonating late comedian

The estate of late-comedian George Carlin has reached an agreement with the co-hosts of the Dudesy podcast who used artificial intelligence to make a comedy special impersonating him.

The agreement comes roughly three months after Dudesy co-hosts Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen uploaded an AI-generated comedy special to YouTube titled George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead, which featured a voice impersonating Carlin. Under this agreement, an injunction will be entered preventing Dudesy from uploading their comedy special in the future and to take down the video from YouTube; the agreement also forbids the two podcast hosts from using Carlin’s voice or likeness without getting permission from Carlin’s estate.

FILE – Actor and comedian George Carlin poses in a New York hotel on March 19, 2004. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

“This sends a message that you have to [be] very careful about how you use AI technology, and to be respectful of peoples’ hard work and good will,” said Josh Schiller, a lawyer for the Carlin estate.

Additional details about this agreement have not been released.

The special had been uploaded sometime in January, Carlin died in 2008. Carlin’s daughter, Kelly Carlin, harshly criticized the use of AI to imitate her father and encouraged people to instead watch one of the 14 specials her father did when he was alive.

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At the start of the special, Dudesy clarified that the comedian himself was not speaking and that viewers ought to view it in the same way they would view “Andy Kaufman impersonating Elvis, or like Will Ferrell impersonating George W. Bush.”

Using AI to create entertainment has been a growing concern since last year and was one of the major topics regarding the writer and actor strikes of 2023. The Writer’s Guild of America reached an agreement in September, which featured protections for writers to not be mandated to use AI when writing a script.

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