THR ran an interesting guest column over the weekend called "Why It's So Hard to Get the Law to Protect a Good Joke" that explores intellectual rights and the Copyright Act in the context of joke theft accusations between comedians, pointing out the craft of comedy as some of the most difficult material to protect due to its always-evolving nature. From the article:
Although comedians may start with a written work — a script — the performance of the work rarely occurs without deviation. As a result, copyright may not issue because the work of authorship is not "fixed" in the manner necessary to establish a basis for [...]
Well this doesn't look good. Two writers have filed a lawsuit in California federal court against the team behind Fox's hit show New Girl, claiming the series to be "blatant plagiarism" of a pilot they wrote in 2006. THR obtained a copy of the complaint filed against New Girl creator Elizabeth Meriwether, executive producer Peter Chernin, Fox, and talent agency WME in which screenwriting duo Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold demand money, creative credit, a public apology, and an injunction to stop all future filming and distribution of New Girl, then go on to illustrate a ton of striking similarities between the Fox show and their earlier [...]
Hey guys, maybe we should cool it with the accusations of joke plagiarism? It's pretty obvious that people come up with the same ideas separately sometimes, be they tiny hats or whatever else. And when you [...]
On Twitter yesterday morning, Jerry Seinfeld accused the folks behind The Lego Movie of stealing his material: "I think Lego Movie stole my Superman has issues with Green Lantern bit from Amex Seinfeld and Superman webisode. Anyone else catch that?" Seinfeld is referring to a pair of web commercials for American Express he did in 2004 in which he starred with an animated Superman.
Bee Movie auteur Seinfeld added a jab at The Lego Movie itself, writing, "Also loved Lego Movie. A story would have been a nice added touch, though…" and "I'm glad they did. It was a fun bit. #legomymaterial."
The similarities between Seinfeld's Superman/Green Lantern [...]
“I’m excited to be writing a book of the observations and stories of my life. I read with great fondness Tina Fey’s Bossypants, so my plan is just to reprint those exact stories but change the names to people that I knew. What editor would take issue with that?”
–Neil Patrick Harris, as quoted in The New York Times about his upcoming memoir, which is set for release in spring of 2014.
Earlier this week, a Cleveland sketch group accused Conan O'Brien of stealing a routine of theirs for his show. Upon examination of their claims, it was pretty clear that the accusation was baseless for a number of reasons. This sure made them look bad! This sketch group I had never heard of before is now known in my mind as a group that accuses people of plagiarism in order to get attention, which is a shitty thing to be known for.
In order to prevent another unfortunate incident like this from occurring, I thought it'd be beneficial to lay out some important questions for comedians and comedy groups [...]
No other comedian is currently more despised by the comedy community than Carlos Mencia. The performer has faced a number of criticisms over his two-decade career, including making jokes that were racially insensitive (and many others that just weren’t funny), “bumping” less popular comedians by showing up last minute to stand-up shows and performing hour-long sets, and most infamously, stealing jokes.
The controversy reached a boiling point when comedian Joe Rogan confronted Mencia on stage at The Comedy Store in LA in 2007, accusing him of stealing jokes written by George Lopez, Ari Shaffir, and Bobby Lee (all of whom have publicly confirmed the rumors). The most cringeworthy [...]
Earlier today, Nikki Glaser sent a sad tweet out to her followers: "So, @ENews blatantly stole a bit from my old MTV show. It feels really shitty." Glaser included a clip from Nikki and Sara Live, the 2013 talk show she co-hosted with Sara Schaefer, in which a counter dings every time the ladies touch a celebrity on the red carpet at the MTV Movie Awards. It's a move they dubbed the "gentle arm touch" to make fun of E!'s annoying need to get buddy-buddy with famous people, but it seems like E! may have hijacked this bit for their own gain. So did E! blatantly steal this [...]
From Rob Delaney's Vice column comes this gem, which anyone who ever plans to publicly accuse someone of joke theft should read five times before going forward with their accusation: I had the good fortune some years ago to have a joke stolen from me and performed on TV by a comic I knew. At first I was upset, but then I realized that, poor etiquette aside, the guy was funny and he would’ve been on TV with or without my joke. I also realized that if I couldn’t immediately write several more jokes to replace it, then I wasn’t funny, and I had no business calling [...]
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