You Can't Steal Jokes On Twitter Anymore

Juice cleanse hilarity sparks copyright crackdown.

Have you ever wanted to tweet a comedian's joke without attribution? If you do, your message could end up looking like this:


That's because Twitter is now enforcing its copyright regulations to crack down on some tweet-stealers. The social media giant has replaced a number of tweets on the site with the message above after a Los Angeles-based writer submitted a copyright claim over her joke about a juice cleanse. The first one to spot the removed tweets was "Plagiarism is Bad," a handle that calls out tweets that have been reposted without attribution.

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Twitter responds to complaints of copyright infringement, though these requests usually concern pictures or videos embedded without permission, rather than regular 140-character tweets. From the company's copyright policy:

Twitter will respond to reports of alleged copyright infringement, such as allegations concerning the unauthorized use of a copyrighted image as a profile photo, header photo, or background, allegations concerning the unauthorized use of a copyrighted video or image uploaded through our media hosting services, or Tweets containing links to allegedly infringing materials.

The crackdown began after Olga Lexell, a freelance writer, filed a claim with Twitter, reporting that multiple users had copied and reposted a joke that she originally tweeted out earlier in July:

In a tweet posted on Monday, Lexell -- who has since set her account to private -- explained why she decided to file a request to have the tweets removed:

For everyone asking, I simply explained to Twitter that as a freelance writer I make my living writing jokes (and I use some of my tweets to test out jokes in my other writing). I then explained that as such, the jokes are my intellectual property, and that the users in question did not have my permission to repost them without giving me credit. I also pointed out that most of them were spam accounts that repost tons of other people's jokes every day. I didn't realize this was not something they normally did.

Not everyone has taken the news so seriously. Many people were tweeting the same joke on Monday, possibly to see just how far Twitter can go to crack down on the stolen comedy.

In an interview with HuffPost Live on Monday, tech news specialist Shibani Joshi discussed how this situation has ignited a conversation on digital content rights.

"For these comedians and a lot of other professions, [such as] journalists and celebrities, they want to feel a sense that their stuff is protected, and this is Twitter's first way of making it known that they're going to take a hard stance," Joshi said.

In addition, Twitter's hard reaction against possible copyright infringement might help enhance the company's credibility with advertisers, especially in light of Twitter's problem with keeping trolls away, Joshi added.

"Advertisers want to know that this is not just a frivolous place, [but that] it's a legitimate portal for delivering content," she told HuffPost Live. "Stamping down on these trolls and protecting rights is going to be a big part of that too."

So remember: If you want to pay homage to someone's wit, hit that "retweet" button.