The growing pains of cracking down on Twitter joke thieves

The only sure things are death, taxes and schmucks will try to profit by stealing your jokes.

At least my online friends at Death and Taxes are making an effort at countering the joke-stealing schmucks. On Tuesday, Death and Taxes took to Wikipedia to make certain everyone knows that Josh Ostrosky, aka “The Fat Jew,” willingly and brazenly steals jokes — so much that he has gathered 5.4 million Instagram followers, 248,000 Twitter followers, and untold sums in corporate sponsorships based on his thievery. I know, right? Please stop.

Some joke writers are finding some success getting other thieves to stop ripping off their gags on Twitter.

The Verge reported that Twitter is taking down copied Tweets based on individual complaints claiming privileges under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). There’s a form on Twitter to stake your claim to originality copyright. If you claim copyright infringement, Twitter will give the offender 10 days to reply.

Olga Lexell, a freelance writer in Los Angeles, noted last week that she’d successfully petitioned Twitter to protect her rights to write jokes without having them pilfered and plagiarized. “I simply explained to Twitter that as a freelance writer I make my living writing jokes (and I use some of my tweets to test out jokes in my other writing). I then explained that as such, the jokes are my intellectual property, and that the users in question did not have my permission to repost them without giving me credit,” she wrote.

Alex Kaseberg is taking his case to federal court, filing suit last week in California claiming that Conan O’Brien’s Conan on TBS had lifted multiple monologue jokes from his personal blog and Twitter feed.

Kaseberg, a longtime freelance joke writer, cited topical jokes he’d made about airlines, Caitlyn Jenner, Tom Brady and the Washington Monument, which he claimed showed up on the TV in similar fashion.

Or did they?

“We at Conaco firmly believe there is no merit to this lawsuit,” responds the production company behind the Conan television show.

Andy Richter, Conan’s sidekick and announcer, went further. On Twitter.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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