Sunday, May 28, 2017

Small Things, BIg Trouble... Or The Potential Thereof

"Little things please little minds..." the old proverb (attributed to Ovid) goes, and the riposte is, "while greater fools look on in amusement."

Take Tweets.  Or even, simply ReTweeting a Tweet. Writer beware.
Did you know that a Tweet can be libellous?  Mark Sableman of  Thompson Coburn LLP explains about the case where a single unkind tweet cost someone $430,000.

Or, take jokes. Or, better still, do NOT take jokes.

Jokes are --or can be-- protected by copyright. The legal blog for Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphries & Leonard LLP recounts the sad story of a late night host whose writers allegedly followed the Tweets of a joke writer, and allegedly pirated them.

It's a good cautionary tale!

Facts cannot be copyrighted, but punchlines can be, because the choice of words used to express an original idea can be copyrighted.

Of course, no one dares repeat the four or five copyrighted jokes, but they can be viewed in the court documents.

Given that the plaintiff has a Twitter account, and tells jokes for the enjoyment of his followers, he might be worth following.

Legal blogger Dylan J Price of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP presents a longer version of the same case, with added color from the Foxworthy suit against a T-Shirt vendor who tried without permission to monetize Foxworthy's "you might be a redneck if..." quips.

For authors, use your own quotable quotes on your promotional T-shirts, and make sure you set up free Google Alerts for your own quotable quotes.

Happy Memorial Day!

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

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