George Carlin’s estate sues podcasters over AI episode

George Carlin's estate sues podcasters over AI episode

The estate of comedian George Carlin sued the producers of a podcast on Thursday after they claimed they used artificial intelligence to impersonate Carlin for a comedy special.

A lawsuit was filed against Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen, hosts of the podcast “Dudessy”, saying they infringed the property’s copyright by training an AI algorithm on Carlin’s five decades of works.George Carlin: I’m glad I’m dead,” which was posted to the podcast’s YouTube channel, where it remains. The lawsuit also says they illegally used Carlin’s name and likeness.

The lawsuit asks the judge to stop “Dudessy” — which advertises itself on social media as an “AI, podcast, YouTube show” — from using Carlin’s copyrighted works in future and episodes. Podcasts are required to destroy audio and video.

Saso spokeswoman Danielle Dale said Dudesi is not actually an AI.

“This is a fictional podcast character created by two humans, Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen,” Dell wrote in an email. “The YouTube video ‘I’m Glad I’m Dead’ was written entirely by Chad Kaltgen.”

A spokesperson for Kaltgen did not respond to a request for comment. Dell declined to comment about whether the Carlin-like voice was generated by AI

Carlin estate attorney Josh Schiller said the lawsuit, filed in federal district court in California, will proceed despite the podcast’s retreat from its AI claims.

“We don’t know if what they’re saying is true,” he said. “We’ll find out when he’s fired. They will produce documents, and there will be evidence that shows, one way or another, how the show was made.

The lawsuit is part of an uncertain legal debate over whether training AI language learning models on publicly available written, visual and audio material infringes the copyrights of artists and writers.

In July, comedian Sarah Silverman joined a class-action lawsuit against OpenAI and against Meta, accusing the companies of copyright infringement by using her work to train their AI models. A group of prominent novelists, including John Grisham, Jonathan Franzen, and Elin Hilderbrand, filed a similar lawsuit against OpenAI in September. In December, The New York Times also filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft, a major investor in OpenAI, accusing them of copyright infringement.

Carlin’s daughter, Kelly, condemned the “Dudessy” special.

“This is a poorly executed replica created by unscrupulous people looking to capitalize on the extraordinary goodwill my father established with his fans,” he 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 AI.” It continues, “I just want to tell you very clearly that What you’re about to hear is not George Carlin. This is my impersonation of George Carlin that I developed in exactly the same way as a human impressionist does.

“I listened to all of George Carlin’s material and tried my best to emulate his voice, cadence and approach, as well as subject matter I thought would interest him today,” the voice continues, before a different voice, Carlin, Current events, including homelessness, policing, mass shootings, and artificial intelligence.

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