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Fighting a losing battle against copyright

Fighting a losing battle against copyright

Sarah Cameron not quite standing by her man, David Cameron

So… on the night when David Cameron finally became Prime Minister, HyperHam and I had the following conversation:

HH: “Why is Mrs Cameron standing at the back, pregnant and far away from her husband?”
AW: “Well, we’re living in Tory times now.”

To me, this was so amazingly funny and of-the-moment, that I immediately posted it on Twitter and Facebook. After all, what’s a joke if it’s not instantly shared to as many people as possible?

While a couple of friends graciously shared the joke with credit, another friend of mine reposted the joke without attributing it towards me. Indeed, when I pointed out that I wrote the joke, she deleted the comment, and then we had a slight disagreement before she decided to delete the joke to begin with. But she genuinely thought she was in the right to just copy a joke without any form of attribution.

Record companies and artists everywhere bemoan how we now live in an age where people copy works without even thinking of paying for it. But at least we all know a song by Lady GaGa is by Lady GaGa. How soon is it going to be before people can’t even be bothered to acknowledge that someone else wrote that song or book or joke?


  • Pinkgemma

    Yeah I saw that. I was going to just copy it too, then I read then comments and thought better of it. I know that you know how to do RT's and put peoples names near little @ things, so if you read one of your friends jokes you would probably do one of those things to give them credit. I have been using Twitter for what seems like an age now, and still have no idea what these things are or mean. For example

    RT @stephenfry: Please help stamp out stigma in mental health and learning disabilities. Sign a pledge at Worth support & RT!

    This is in the bottom right hand corner of your page. I've no idea who wrote it. I just don't.

    Anyway, the thing I'm trying to get at is, if I was telling the joke in person, face to face (yes, I know this may be the part that starts to confuse you!!) I wouldn't say, "Here is a joke I heard from my friend Joe Bloggs" .This friend wouldn't say to the next person he told it to "Here is a joke I heard from Gemma, but she heard it from Joe Bloggs" etc etc.

    If I hear a joke I might say "I'm telling everyone that joke, it's so funny, thanks". I think that's the equivalent of what happened online.

    Going back to what I said at the start of this enormous comment, the person who reposted your joke spends A LOT less time online social networking than you. So do most people! If I hadn't read the comments, I would have just copied it too, because that's what people do socially face to face, so why not online?

    If you were trying to make a living out of your jokes online and so was the person who stole it, I think it might be different. But you aren't are you?? Because although that joke was massively funny, I wouldn't bother! πŸ˜‰

    • That's all fine and fair enough – I am a social network nerd.

      But when I asked our mutual friend about what she'd done, she genuinely couldn't see what was wrong with repeating a joke without saying who said it to her. If I was repeating a joke I'd heard from a stand-up comedian, I'd at least say who I heard it from.

  • Pinkgemma

    I genuinely can't see what is wrong with it either!!

    You aren't a stand up comedian, you are her friend.

    Even if you had done a spot of stand up in your time, it was on facebook, where you are friends. Not a blog, where people are subscribers, or twitter where people follow. Facebook is about friendships to me. It's not a place where I put things I have created. If I post it on there I don't want credit. You are a writer, so perhaps would class things you write on there as part of your work.

    If I was mates with the funniest stand up comedian ever I wouldn't watch one of their shows and then go around passing jokes off as my own. But if we were in a social situation and they came up with a joke, they would have told me in in the context of conversation between friends. I wouldn't feel the need to give them credit.

    You have used a couple of my photos for profile pictures. Once you have cropped it and saved it as a profile picture, it makes a copy of it. That copy does not mention me or the album it came from. I'm not a professional photographer, so I don't care.

  • Dylan D

    No one ever steals my jokes, dammit πŸ™

  • Pinkgemma

    That response got more of a laugh than the original joke! xxx

  • When I was doing stand-up, a section of my act ended in a joke that was quite successful, in that it got plenty of laughs. I wrote all my material myself btw. I was horrified one night, when Harry Hill did almost the same joke (which pretty much killed it for me, as it was on TV) – Later, in the same show, somebody I'd performed alongside turned up, as an extra. I hope Harry paid him well for MY joke.

  • Seriously Andrew, it wasn't that funny a joke. I didn't even realise it was a joke, and as far as jokes go, it's scratching around the bottle of the barrel there with the knock-knocks.

    And you only wrote half of it… It's not like you're due commissions or something. Why make such a big deal about it? You should be flattered. It was on twitter and FB for goodness sake, everyone reposts old 'jokes' on there all the time. Should they all be attributed? In the friendliest possible way, get over yourself. πŸ˜‰

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