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Other >> Copyright Forum >> Email Jokes?
(Message started by: Sonia on May 15th, 2005, 9:27am)

Title: Email Jokes?
Post by Sonia on May 15th, 2005, 9:27am
I'm considering compiling a book of all the email jokes that I've received in the past 5 or 6 years.  

What would be the legalities as far as copyright goes for something like that?  How can one possibly search for copyrights on thousands of email "pass-along's"?   ::)

Would I just put "compiled by..." on the cover and copyright page instead of "written by", and then put my illustrations as ©?

Thanks for your time  :)

Title: Re: Email Jokes?
Post by tom on May 17th, 2005, 7:15am
I think your sentence about compilation will save you.  It would be known that the compilation is the original thought, and not the jokes themselves. I think this should save you based on what I have read, but I am not a copyright attorney.

Title: Re: Email Jokes?
Post by Isaac Clark on May 17th, 2005, 6:39pm
Copyright law is not concerned with attribution of the source.
It's concerned about copying, distribution, creating of derivative
works etc.  The text of the jokes you receive in email is
creative expression fixed in a tangible medium of expression
which means its protected by copyright.  Absent some exception,
you need the permission of the copyright holder to make
copies.  You don't really know whether the author's permission
was given even to type the joke into email.

Title: Re: Email Jokes?
Post by JSonnabend on May 18th, 2005, 7:05am
Isaac's analysis is correct, in my view (Tom's is way off the mark).  

On a more practical note, if the jokes in question have been widely distributed by email without a hiccup, I question who would come after you claiming to be the author.  Of course, if the book's successful that may still happen.  Assuming some purported author did surface, how would he or she prove authorship under these facts?

- Jeff

Title: Re: Email Jokes?
Post by IP Attorney on May 18th, 2005, 9:46am
Laches may also be an issue if the email jokes have been published all over the Internet for years.

Title: Re: Email Jokes?
Post by Isaac Clark on May 18th, 2005, 7:09pm
I wouldn't think laches likely to be an issue with this set
of facts.  Just because someone has no issue with their work
being posted on the Internet does not mean they don't want
a cut of a book published with those jokes.  Also, the author
would have very little ability to policy emailings of his
jokes between private parties.

Title: Re: Email Jokes?
Post by IP Attorney on May 19th, 2005, 9:01am
I don't understand your reasoning.  The whole concept of laches/estoppel is to provide an equitable defense against a copyright holder doing nothing over a certain period of time to protect his/her rights.  These scenario seems entirely possible if the patent holder has knowledge (through a cursory Google search) that his/her jokes are all over the net.  I don't see how the facts the OP presented can so easily lead you to conclude that laches is not available.

I would be very surprised if the email jokes the OP received were simply emails between private parties, as you suggest.  A more likely scenario is that the jokes were sent through mass mailings (which is the way I receive these kinds of jokes) and are publicly and readily available on blogs, message boards, and other sites with unfettered public access.

Title: Re: Email Jokes?
Post by JSonnabend on May 19th, 2005, 9:12am
Patent holder?  Google search of email?  I think you have some homework to do before advising clients on this one.

Laches is an equitable defense, and so the equities must be balanced.  I think a court would quickly excuse inaction over non-commercial email "publication" in an action concerning commercial, in-print publication.

- Jeff

Title: Re: Email Jokes?
Post by IP Attorney on May 19th, 2005, 9:22am
I should register so I can modify.  I apologize for the typo.  And I thought this was a forum for discussion rather than a determination of ability to advise clients.  I was simply bringing up an alternate point although I readily admit it isn't the strongest, and both you and Mr. Clark have brought up good points.  No need for the extra commentary.

Title: Re: Email Jokes?
Post by Sonia on May 19th, 2005, 10:50am
Yes, the email jokes were received via "mass email" and numerous forwarded emails (I detest non-formatted forwards) and I've just been shoving them into a file as I receive them.  Many of them have come around the world  three or four times now.

So, my layman's understanding of laches is that, even though the original authors of the jokes have done nothing in the past to stop the reproduction of  their work (in this case via email), that if I put the jokes into book form, that the authors can bring suit for copyright infringement?

So, methinks it would be best to stay away from the whole idea and keep out of trouble.  ;D

Thank you for all your time and replies.  :)


Title: Re: Email Jokes?
Post by Sonia on May 20th, 2005, 3:33am
Hmm, but is the book a copyright infringement?  I notice that he has a "compiler copyright" on the web site, and http://www.netfunny.com/rhf/copyr.html notice about compiler copyright.

So, even though he has the book on Amazon and on his site, one person who has their joke in the book could bring about a suit if I understand correctly?

Nahh, best to steer clear.   ;D




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