AI-generated George Carlin triggers right of publicity lawsuit

BVWireIssue #256-4
January 31, 2024

intellectual property
copyright, intangible property, intellectual property, intangible valuation

A “comedy AI” tool has created an “impersonation” of George Carlin that has triggered a lawsuit by his estate, claiming violations of the late comedian’s right of publicity and copyright, reports Variety. BVWire watched the video on YouTube, but it has since been removed (the estate asked the court to order it removed).

Harmless impression? Speaking at the beginning of the video, the AI tool, called Dudesy, says: “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.” Dudesy makes it clear that what you hear is an impersonation that was developed “the exact same way a human impressionist would,” such as Andy Kaufman doing Elvis (or Rich Little doing everybody).

This lawsuit is among the first of what is likely to be many that will involve AI-generated images that are alleged to run afoul of copyrights or an individual’s right of publicity.

The right of publicity is a form of intellectual property that covers not only a person’s name and image, but also the signature, voice, and so on. It is an issue that often is overlooked because of a lack of awareness. The concept does not only apply to famous people—the average person has the right of publicity, and it has a value. Fundamental valuation techniques are used, but it requires the judgment and experience of someone who works with the right of publicity regularly.

Learn more: One of the foremost experts in this area is Mark Roesler (, who worked on the valuation of rights of publicity for the estates of Prince, Michael Jackson, and others. Roesler explained his methodology for the Jackson case (in Tax Court) during a BVR webinar (recording available). He also wrote a chapter on the topic in BVR’s Comprehensive Guide to Economic Damages, 7th edition (Chapter 28, “Damages and Right of Publicity Infringements”).

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