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George Carlin estate sues over AI depiction


No license to use his material

The estate of George Carlin has filed suit in Los Angeles against the media company behind an hour-long comedy special billed as an artificial intelligence-generated impression of the late comedian, according to court papers obtained this week. 

The lawsuit filed in federal court on Jan. 25 alleges that Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen, hosts of the podcast “Dudesy''--also the name of their media company–infringed on the estate's copyrights and Carlin's name and likeness for “George Carlin: I'm Glad I'm Dead,'' which was posted on the podcast's YouTube channel.

The complaint, brought by Carlin's longtime manager, Jerry Hamza, contends Sasso and Kultgen had no license to use Carlin's likeness or material, and asks that a judge order the podcast taken down.

A representative for Sasso and Kultgen could not immediately be reached for comment.

Carlin's daughter, Kelly Carlin, said in a statement that the audio-only stand-up routine “is a poorly executed facsimile cobbled together by unscrupulous individuals to capitalize on the extraordinary goodwill my father established with his adoring fanbase.''

Carlin died in June 2008.

The lawsuit alleges that the internet special “was created through the unauthorized use of Carlin's copyrighted work, (but) is not George Carlin's work.'' It was generated by use of “a technological process that is an unlawful appropriation of Carlin's identity, which also damages the value of Carlin's real work and his legacy,'' according to the suit.