AI George Carlin won't be seen again... | Lawsuit over late comic's fake special is settled

AI George Carlin won't be seen again...

Lawsuit over late comic's fake special is settled

The estate of George Carlin has reached a settlement with the company that is said to have used AI to create an hour-long special in the late comic’s style. 

Under an agreement awaiting a judges’ approval, podcast outfit Dudesy will agree to permanently take down the special – entitled  I'm Glad I'm Dead –  and to refrain from using Carlin's image, voice or likeness in the future without the estate’s approval.

The video is already unavailable – and was actually removed just days after the lawsuit was filed.

‘I am grateful that the defendants acted responsibly by swiftly removing the video they made,’ Carlin's daughter Kelly Carlin said in a statement. 

‘While it is a shame that this happened at all, I hope this case serves as a warning about the dangers posed by AI technologies and the need for appropriate safeguards not just for artists and creatives, but every human on earth.’

Lawyer Joshua Schiller of Boies Schiller Flexner, acting for the Carlin estate, called the agreement ‘a blueprint for resolving similar disputes going forward where an artist or public figure has their rights infringed by AI technology’.

He added in a statement: ‘Our goal was to resolve this case expeditiously and have the offending videos removed from the internet so that we could preserve Mr. Carlin’s legacy and shine a light on the reputational and intellectual property threat caused by this emerging technology.’

There was widespread scepticism about how much AI was actually used in the creation of the special, but the Carlin estate said that didn’t matter.

Their lawsuit said: ‘Whether the Dudesy Special is indeed, from start to finish, the product of an artificial intelligence or simply relies on AI-powered tools to help a human better imitate George Carlin, the result is ultimately same: Defendants always promoted and  presented the Dudesy Special as an AI-generated George Carlin comedy special, where George Carlin was "resurrected" with the use of modern technology.’

The writ claimed the special infringed copyright and the right to privacy and called it a ‘bastardisation of Carlin’s real work’ and ‘a piece of computer-generated click-bait which detracts from the value of Carlin’s comedic works and harms his reputation’.

Kelly said when it was released in January: ‘My dad spent a lifetime perfecting his craft from his very human life, brain, and imagination. No machine will ever replicate his genius.’

The introductory voiceover for the video explained that the AI engine analysed five decades of Carlin’s original standup comedy routines to train its database, which the lawsuit says amounts to a confession that they made unauthorised copies of the copyright works – or as the court papers put it ‘casual theft of a great American artist’s work’.

Their suit had sought unspecified damages, but it is not clear if any payment made. 

I’m Glad I’m Dead, covered topics such as mass shootings, Donald Trump and why religious people praise God for the good things in life but do not blame him for the bad.

The fake Carlin even joked that stand-up could be erased by artificial intelligence  saying sarcastically: ‘I know what all the stand-up comics across the globe are saying right now, "I’m an artist and my art form is too creative, too nuanced, too subtle to be replicated by a machine. No computer program can tell a fart joke as good as me".’

Elsewhere,  he said: ‘Art used to be  made by artists that wanted to challenge us to think about the world and our place in it now it's content made by corporations that don't want anyone thinking about anything. These billionaires don't want a thinking  population, they want a distracted population.’

It is not the first time comedians and AI have become involved in legal tussles. Last year, Sarah Silverman, launched a lawsuit against ChatGPT owner OpenAI and Facebook’s parent company Meta alleging copyright infringement for scraping the contents of her autobiography Bedwetter.

Published: 3 Apr 2024

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