George Carlin estate wins AI lawsuit. Will it set a precedent?

The estate of George Carlin has won out against podcast Dudesy over their misuse of his likeness using AI to create a stand-up special.

Last Updated on April 5, 2024

george carlin ai

The estate of legendary comedian George Carlin has settled their lawsuit with the Dudesy podcast, stemming from the latter creating an AI-generated standup special using the likeness of Carlin. While specific details — particularly as they pertain to financial compensation — were not made public, the victory for the Carlin estate shows that there could be a much stronger support over (mis)use of likenesses than we may have fully seen enacted.

Carlin’s daughter, Kelly, immediately expressed her disdain over the hour-long standup special, titled George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead, in which artificial intelligence was used to try to mimic the voice, delivery and patterns of the comedian…achieving less in being a piece of comedy than they did in slapping the face of Carlin. In a statement, she said this landmark win demonstrates the “dangers posed by AI technologies and the need for appropriate safeguards not just for artists and creatives, but every human on earth.” Former NFL star Tom Brady also had a run-in with Dudesy over AI, resulting in a cease and desist. As with the Carlin case, Brady’s video has also since been taken down, so we no longer live in a world where someone thinks Brady is as funny as Carlin.

According to a lawyer for the George Carlin estate (via The Hollywood Reporter), the victory “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.” He added that this will hopefully “serve as a blueprint for resolving similar disputes going forward where an artist or public figure has their rights infringed by AI technology.”

As we have seen for too long now, the use of AI can be plenty harmful — and we’re not just talking about job loss or industry integrity. Thankfully people like Kelly Carlin are taking charge and working to ensure that those whose have their likeness violated — whether in good fun or through more harmful acts — are protected, even after they have died. Hopefully this helps set a precedent within the entertainment industry.

Do you see the usage of artificial intelligence in such a manner slowing after the George Carlin settlement or have we yet to see its capabilities? Drop your thoughts in the comments section below.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.