Joke copyright

There has been a lot of whingeing in the past few years about the internet destroying the music industry with the people the call pirates “stealing” music from the artists (it is not stealing it’s copyright infringement).  I always content that I think that a musician should get out there and earn money from performance and not from music sales.

There is an interesting corollary in the stand up comedian space.   For comedians the thing to steal is other people material. Comic material can’t be copyrighted so there is nothing to stop some one using another person bit. However given how much great material is other there it rarely happens.(On a side note I did lose a comedy heat to someone that lifted liberally from Bill Hicks, not cool!). There is an interesting podcast over at onthemedia.org, Take my Joke, Please that discusses informal system of intellectual property enforcement. The host Brooke Gladstone talks to two law professors Chris Sprigman and Dotan Oliarand who published a paper entitled “There’s No Free Laugh (Anymore): The Emergence of Intellectual Property Norms and the Transformation of Stand-Up Comedy.

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