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Comedian George Carlin’s Estate Files Lawsuit Over A.I. Generated Content

According to a report from The New York Times, in a turn of events that has sparked a wave of controversy, the estate of the late comedian George Carlin has filed a lawsuit against the creators of a podcast. The reason? The hosts, Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen, claim to have used artificial intelligence to mimic Carlin's style for a comedy special.

The lawsuit is directed at Sasso and Kultgen, the duo behind the podcast “Dudesy.” The estate alleges that they breached copyright laws by training an AI algorithm on five decades of Carlin's work for the special titled “George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead.”

The lawsuit further asserts that the pair illegally used Carlin's name and likeness.

The legal action seeks a court order to prevent “Dudesy” from using Carlin's copyrighted materials in the future. It also demands that the podcast destroy the audio and video of the offending episode.

In response to the lawsuit, Danielle Del, a spokesperson for Sasso, stated that Dudesy is not an AI-driven podcast.

“It’s a fictional podcast character created by two human beings, Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen,” Del wrote in an email. “The YouTube video ‘I’m Glad I’m Dead’ was completely written by Chad Kultgen.”

A spokesperson for Kultgen did not provide a comment. Del declined to comment on whether the voice used in the podcast sounds like Carlin, suggesting it was generated by AI.

Josh Schiller, the attorney representing the Carlin estate, stated that the lawsuit, filed in a Federal District Court in California, will proceed regardless of the podcast's retraction of its AI claims. “We don’t know what they’re saying to be true,” he said. “What we will know is that they will be deposed. They will produce documents, and there will be evidence that shows one way or another how the show was created.”

The lawsuit is part of a larger legal debate about whether training AI language learning models on publicly available content infringes on the copyrights of artists and authors.

Carlin’s daughter, Kelly, condemned the “Dudesy” special. “It is a poorly executed facsimile cobbled together by unscrupulous individuals to capitalize on the extraordinary good will my father established with his adoring fanbase,” she wrote in a statement.

“George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead” begins with a voice saying, “Hello, my name is Dudesy, and I’m a comedy A.I.” It goes on to say, “I just want to let you know very clearly that what you’re about to hear is not George Carlin. It’s my impersonation of George Carlin that I 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,” the voice continues, before a separate voice similar to Carlin begins addressing current events surrounding homelessness, law enforcement, mass shootings and artificial intelligence.

In recent months, a number of high-profile figures have joined the fray. Comedian Sarah Silverman, authors John Grisham, Jonathan Franzen, and Elin Hilderbrand, and even The New York Times have filed lawsuits against OpenAI and Meta, accusing them of copyright infringement by using their work to train AI models.

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