Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Why It's So Hard to Get the Law to Protect a Good Joke (Guest Column); Hollywood Reporter, 6/8/14

James J.S. Holmes and Kanika D. Corley, Hollywood Reporter; Why It's So Hard to Get the Law to Protect a Good Joke (Guest Column) :
"Comedians work hard to refine their craft, which often results in the creation of an intangible asset — a signature style of comedy. Such assets are deserving of intellectual property rights protection — but which one(s)?
Under the Copyright Act, protection extends to original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed. It follows that artistic content in tangible form, such as a comic's written jokes performed to an audience (or recorded), is entitled to protection. Taken to its logical conclusion, if comedic works are copyrightable, then those who engage in "joke thievery" should find themselves subject to suit for copyright infringement, thereby entitling the complainant to the Copyright Act's statutory damages and attorneys' fees.
Not so fast! A thorough review of the tenets of the Copyright Act when viewed in the context of professional comedians raises a problem."

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