(Thanks to Jordan Hatcher for the link). A London law firm will be sending a murder of lawyers to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to train comedians on how to protect their intellectual property. No, this is not a cheap joke. Apparently, joke stealing is a serious problem at the Fringe, so the lawyers will be releasing their briefcases and thin watches to the service of the average struggling comedian.

I have to wonder, just how are jokes protected by copyright? I think that the best claim for protection is to write down the jokes. The original work will immediately have copyright, and then you would also have rights over the performance of the jokes and against the unauthorised fixation, reproduction, retransmission and communication to the public of said performance. But what if your act is not original? Will we have a new breed of legal hecklers in the audience?

“Hey mate, that joke goes against the Berne and Rome Conventions!”

“You’re so bad that I’m willing to claim moral rights against you!”

“Will you be having fair dealing with that?”


1 Comment


feneuk · August 7, 2006 at 8:31 am

I think that comedians should better stay away of copyright law. Although they may be able to claim copyright over the notes that lead to the performace, the performance and so on, I think that it would be very difficult to show autorship. Taking into account that many, if not most, jokes are revamps of old or previous ones, or stories that are anyway in the public domain, the people in the Fringe should give the London's law firm a ticket back from the first day.

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