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George Carlin’s estate reaches settlement over AI-generated comedy special

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George Carlin’s estate has agreed to a settlement with the media company it sued earlier this year over the use of artificial intelligence.

In January, Carlin’s estate sued the podcast company, Dudesy, for recreating Carlin’s iconic comedic style in an hour-long special titled “George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead.” The settlement indicates that Dudesy is required to permanently remove the special and cannot use Carlin’s image voice or likeness in the future without written consent from the estate.

According to The Associated Press, the settlement agreement was approved by both sides and awaits a judge’s approval.

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George Carlin on stage with a microphone

George Carlin’s estate reached a settlement in their lawsuit against the podcast company, Dudesy. (Kevin Statham/Redferns)

The outlet reported that the settlement reached the demands made by Carlin’s estate in the Jan. 25 lawsuit. Along with the removal of the special, the estate was also seeking unspecified damages, per the lawsuit.

“None of the Defendants had permission to use Carlin’s likeness for the AI-generated ‘George Carlin Special,’ nor did they have a license to use any of the late comedian’s copyrighted materials,” the lawsuit stated.

A photo of George Carlin

George Carlin’s voice and likeness was recreated in the hour-long comedy special titled “George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead.” (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc for HBO)

Dudesy creates various AI-generated materials, but it is primarily a podcast hosted by comedian Will Sasso and writer Chad Kultgen. The company, as well as both men, were named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs were listed as Carlin’s estate as well as its executor, Jerold Hamza.

Following the settlement agreement, Carlin’s daughter, Kelly Carlin, issued a statement.

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“I am grateful that the defendants acted responsibly by swiftly removing the video they made,” she said. “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.”

George Carlin performing stand-up

The iconic comedian passed away in 2008. (Lisa Lake/Getty Images)

Carlin, whose comedy career spanned over 50 years, died in 2008 of heart failure at the age of 71. In the special, Dudesy claims they used artificial intelligence to go over all of his recorded material and produce new jokes that he might make in today’s world.

Kelly shared a statement with Fox News Digital after the lawsuit was filed. “My father was a legendary comedian and a once-in-a-lifetime talent whose legacy is the body of work that he left behind – his actual performances, albums and books.”

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She continued, “I understand and share the desire for more George Carlin. I, too, want more time with my father. But it is ridiculous to proclaim he has been ‘resurrected’ with AI. The ‘George Carlin’ in that video is not the beautiful human who defined his generation and raised me with love. It is a poorly-executed facsimile cobbled together by unscrupulous individuals to capitalize on the extraordinary goodwill my father established with his adoring fanbase.”

A side by side photo of Kelly Carlin-McCall with George Carlin

George Carlin’s daughter, Kelly Carlin, said she is “grateful” the comedy special has been removed. (Getty Images)

“We have to draw a line in the sand,” she said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “This is going to be a fight on every front, with entertainment at the center.”

Josh Schiller, the attorney for the plaintiffs, told Fox News Digital, “AI may be the most important technology invented in generations, and therefore requires a great amount of control and restraint to ensure that it is not misused. Otherwise, like with prior revolutionary technologies, we risk it becoming a tool that allows bad-faith actors to replace creative expression, to exploit the already existing work of creators, and to get rich at the expense of others. This case is not just about AI, it’s about the humans that use AI to violate the law, infringe on intellectual property rights, and flout common decency.”

In the introduction to the special, a robotic voice declared, “I’m Dudesy, and I’m a comedy AI. What you’re about to hear is my second hour-long special. Before I get started, I just want to let you know very clearly that what you’re about to hear is not George Carlin. It’s my impression of George Carlin that I developed in the exact same way a human impressionist would.”

George Carlin

George Carlin died of heart failure at 71. (Aaron Rapoport/Corbis via Getty Images)

It continued, “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.”

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The special then went on to cover a variety of topics, including religion, politics, social media and technology.

Kelly previously told Fox News Digital upon the special’s release, “My dad spent a lifetime perfecting his craft from his very human life, brain and imagination. No machine will ever replace his genius. These AI-generated products are clever attempts at trying to recreate a mind that will never exist again. Let’s let the artist’s work speak for itself.”

George Carlin, 1992

George Carlin shown performing onstage in 1992. (Mark Junge/Getty Images)

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She added, “Humans are so afraid of the void that we can’t let what has fallen into it stay there. Here’s an idea – how about we give some actual living human comedians a listen to?”

Fox News Digital’s Emily Trainham and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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