Creative expression and copyright. Can I copyright a joke?

On this podcast episode, Andy Sellars of Harvard Law School's Cyberlaw Clinic discusses coyright issues in relation to tweets and jokes.


With 316 million users posting 500 million tweets a day, someone is bound to write an unoriginal tweet now and then.

But there are some Twitter users whose entire existence relies completely on plagiarizing tiny jokes and relatable observations created by other Twitter users. Many plagiarizing accounts have follower numbers ranging from the thousands to the millions. Meaning their exposure can lead to career opportunities and sponsorships built on the creativity of others who are just getting started in their writing careers.

So it was not without excitement that Twitter users found out last week that they can report plagiarizing accounts to Twitter under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and have these copied tweets removed.

But now we're forced to ask the question: are jokes protected under copyright?


Individual vs. Group 
Release Date 
August, 2015