Social media is big business, particularly on hugely popular sites such as Twitter. Connect with a large audience, and you can very well drive an entire brand forward based on posts and tweets alone. The power of social media in modern times means that businesses have taken to it in droves, attempting to connect with their customers and gain as many followers as possible. Often, it only takes one tweet for an individual’s or business’s popularity to skyrocket.
In the search for memorable tweets, many decide to take the easy route and plagiarise jokes or sayings. However, the days of finding the perfect one liner and using it for your own purposes could be at an end.
Twitter is beginning to honour takedown requests from users who complain that their jokes have been stolen and passed off as another user’s without any acknowledgement. When these tweets are taken down, the users who are targeted have ten days to appeal, or else the tweet is removed completely. A recent news story featured freelance writer Olga Lexell, who tweeted about filing a DMCA takedown request. At least five separate accounts were affected, some of which were spam accounts that reposted many jokes made by other people. Lexell is no stranger to filing these requests, and has done so on several other occasions.
Twitter’s guidelines for filing complaints state that they will respond to reports of alleged copyright infringement, including unauthorized uses of copyrighted images and video, as well as tweets containing links to allegedly infringing materials. The issue of text does not specifically arise within these guidelines, although we can assume that this will be amended in the future. Anyone can request for any copyright infringing material to be taken down, although this appears to be the first highly publicised case of tweets being taken down due to stolen jokes.
Of course, copying tweets isn’t a new occurrence and most likely won’t stop even with these efforts. The reaction of the public on Twitter is mixed, to say the least. While writers and comedians are praising the fact that the tweets are being taken down, the general public are a little less convinced that this is an entirely positive development. That being said, however, it appears that takedown notices are aimed at those who copied jokes verbatim without accreditation. That means that, presumably, retweets or accredited jokes won’t be affected.