As long as comedy has been around, people have been stealing others’ jokes.
In 2015, when sites like Twitter exist for users to conceivably publish their every thought for the whole world to see, it creates an entirely new platform for joke theft, and apparently not even the biggest comedians are above scrutiny.
San Diego-based writer and Twitter user Alex Kaseberg is suing late night funnyman Conan O’Brien for more than $600,000, claiming that several of his jokes were stolen and repurposed in some form in blog posts and Tweets from Conan’s show.
Twitter is also cracking down on joke thieves. According to this article from The Verge, Twitter users can report instances of possible copyright infringement, and Twitter then decides whether to remove the Tweet on copyright grounds.
Do you think Mr. Kaseburg’s lawsuit has merit? Can/should Tweets be considered intellectual property? What questions does this raise about what kinds of online content are intellectual property?
Ann Bartow, professor of law and director of the Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property at the University of New Hampshire School of Law