Thursday, February 17, 2011
Can you copyright a joke?
infringe other comic's jokes (as William Patry's thoughtful blog on the subject explains) and that activity rarely leads to legal action. (Comedians have their own system of self-regulation.) Lawsuits are much more likely to arise when a book or collection of jokes are infringed. In that case, the dispute is usually over the choice and selection of jokes -- that is, a compilation like the one you suggest -- and not necessarily about individual jokes. For example, if you had a unique collection of chicken crossing the road jokes, you might be able to stop someone who copied your collection, even if the underlying jokes are unprotectible or in the public domain. Speaking of jokes, we wanted to share our most recent favorite punchline (it's a dark joke that takes place in a bar): "Wow, Superman you're such a mean drunk."