The Vigilantes of Comedy

Pearce took this picture at Niagara Falls in e...

Thanks to walker for pointing me, in response to my reflections on the “Niagara Falls” skits below, to this New York Times piece by two copyright lawyers on an escalating dispute between two comedians over the theft of a joke. Intellectual property law is not very useful in the world of stand-up comedy. Rights to clever jokes are enforced by complex and well-worked-out social norms instead of (and sometimes in contravention of) the law.

“Comedians provide a fascinating picture of how some creative communities depend on informal rules of conduct, rather than legal rules, to maintain adequate incentives to create new work.”