Creators are protected by the law.
1. You automatically own your work as intellectual property once you put it online.
2. Your ownership gives you the power to get it taken down anywhere that doesn't have your permission.
3. Getting it taken down from people taking advantage causes repercussions for them.
People are stealing your work, removing any attribution to you as the person who created it, and making thousands and thousands of dollars off of it. You work hard on your comedy, you dedicate tons of time and energy to it and you give it away for free because you like making people happy and you love creating comedy. Now, through a complex network of paid retweets, account handle selling/reselling, and paid promotions from big companies, your best-of is being used to make these people more money in three months you earn in three years. There is usually no way to contact this website, parody account, or Facebook page and if there is, they don't even respond to you. And why would they? If this aggregate account gains followers with their brand as the only source of attribution then it drives more and more consumers to their source of ad revenue. You probably feel pretty helpless.
You're not. You have substantial power. Your peers have that power too.
If you're here you're probably a comedian. You probably don't read a lot of U.S. law because you're busy capturing the human condition and expressing it with the perfect word choice in just the right order. Here are some misconceptions you might have about the law.
1)You have to purchase a copyright to protect what you've created.
2)Taking legal action is a costly affair that requires money, time, and a lawyer.
Number 1 is most important.
YOUR WORK IS AUTOMATICALLY PROTECTED BY U.S. COPYRIGHT LAW AS SOON AS IT'S PUBLISHED.
And I don't mean like you got a book deal and a publisher is printing your fabulous words, I mean you just documented your work at all by uploading it somewhere with a time stamp. That's right. You're an intellectual property owner. Pretty cool huh? Sit in that for a moment. Wow look at you, this is a really great look for you, you're totally owning it. The monocle is a bit much, but you still look great.
"But people purchase copyrights, why would they do that if they are already protected?"
Because those purchased copyrights help in actual court cases like suing for damages which is what you would sue somebody for if you wanted financial restitution for stealing your content and profiting. You're not going to do that. Damages are extremely hard to prove and win cases for. That's probably what misconception number 2 is about.
So what does this mean? What power do you have?
It means that every time somebody uploads your intellectual property without your permission they're breaking the law and most likely the terms and conditions of the place they are uploading it to. You have the power to get your work taken down and put those thieves at risk for suspension.
Remember that thing that made you afraid to use Napster? It's called a DMCA letter and in addition to protecting record companies from music pirates it protects you from marketing buttwads stealing your joke/photo/drawing/poem.
A DMCA letter is also extremely easy to draft, you just have to copy one and fill in a few spaces so they apply specifically to you like an unfunny four part Mad Lib.
ISP Hosting Company,
I am the copyright owner of the photograph being infringed at
[LINK TO STOLEN CONTENT]
A copy of the photograph being infringed is included to assist with their removal from the infringing websites.
[LINK OR UPLOADED COPY OF ORIGINAL VERSION]
This letter is official notification under the provisions of Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) to effect removal of the above-reported infringements. I request that you immediately issue a cancellation message as specified in RFC 1036 for the specified postings and prevent the infringer, who is identified by its web address, from posting the infringing photographs to your servers in the future. Please be advised that law requires you, as a service provider, to “expeditiously remove or disable access to” the infringing photograph upon receiving this notice. Noncompliance may result in a loss of immunity for liability under the DMCA.
I have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of here is not authorized by me, the copyright holder, or the law. The information provided here is accurate to the best of my knowledge. I swear under penalty of perjury that I am the copyright holder.
Please send me at the address noted below a prompt response indicating the actions you have taken to resolve this matter.
/s/ [YOUR NAME]
Email: [YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS]
For Facebook and Twitter you don't even have to send a letter. You just fill out an easy form linking to proof that you created what was stolen, state that you didn't give permission, and the source of the infringement.
Web servers are the people who can remove the content and if you ask nicely:
They actually won't do crap.
But if you go through the official legal route.
You get the goods removed almost immediately and you get thanked for your patience.
Web servers do not mess around with DMCA letters. Once you make them aware of the content they are hosting being illegal, they take it down very quickly. That probably indicates they're legally responsible once they're made aware.
And what good does that do? Getting one image with your joke on it removed? Getting one tweet removed?
Nothing. Except making sure your joke is credited to you instead of the account that stole it. It makes it so the people who would have shared the stolen version not even knowing it was wrong are now more likely going to share it from you.
And what happens when we don't just get one removed? What happens when all of the creatives being exploited work to protect their content, when they take the tiny amount of time it takes to send a DMCA letter or fill out an IP report for their stolen content?
Just one successful take down causes a flag on the account that puts them at risk for suspension. Imagine what happens when several infringements are coming in and they are all valid. Do you think facebook, twitter, the web server hosting the website of these parasites wants to continue hosting somebody who keeps putting them at risk for being sued? Nope. Those accounts will get suspended. Imagine what happens when the accounts behind these huge businesses get suspended. All of the sudden crediting comedians and artists becomes a lot more important.
Post websites in the comments that are known for stealing and ill post them under "Jerks" in the resource section at the bottom. Facebook fan pages are especially important since they aren't publicly searchable
Helpful resources below
I am not a lawyer nor am I providing legal advice.
Finding Stolen Content
1) Google Reverse Image Search Click the camera icon next to the search bar and upload your original image to see where else its been uploaded to. Upload the highest resolution version you have and it will show you versions that are lower resolution if you select "all sizes".
2) Google Copy and paste your popular tweets into google to find other accounts that have stolen your tweet
3) TinEye alternate reverse image search
4)List of people who steal tweets by @PlagiarismBad
Filing Reports Or Sending Takedowns
1) Facebook Intellectual Property Report
2) Twitter Copyright Report
3) WhoIs For For DMCA letters.This will allow you to find the website of the web server. Go to their website, find their contact section, look for an email address for abuse, terms of service, or copyright. If you can't find any of those then send the DMCA letter to whatever contact email address is available and if it isn't the right one, they'll give to the correct email address to send it to.
Jerks (WILL UPDATE AS POSTED)
1) Whisper App
1) U.S. Copyright Law Read this. At least the definitions part in the first section. It's pretty easy to read, trust me. Then when something like this happens
You can do something like this (took about an hour of reading)
Seamless is here. Ah, just what we ordered. Victory burrito.
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