by Mike Masnick
Mon, Nov 22nd 2010 6:16pm
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Nov 12th 2010 7:53am
from the common-sense-isn't-so-common dept
Now, to turn a ridiculous situation into a pure farce, an appeals court has upheld the earlier ruling. Comedian/actor Stephen Fry, who had promised to pay the original fine has again promised to pay whatever Chambers owes. The BBC coverage doesn't explain the court's ruling for upholding the original conviction, but it certainly seems to make the UK judicial system look like a joke. At some point, shouldn't common sense enter into the discussion? It's fine to investigate the comment, but even the officer who investigated it noted that the statement was obviously a "foolish comment posted on Twitter as a joke for only his close friends to see." That's the point at which they tell him maybe he shouldn't make stupid jokes and send him on his way... not go through with a trial.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Sep 30th 2010 11:24am
from the humor-sensors? dept
Britain is characterised by "tea, weird sense of humour, football hooligans and rain", while Germany is summed up with "beer, discipline and autobahns". China is reduced to "overpopulation, kung fu, Great Wall, Tibet and tea ceremony", while the most defining characteristics of the US are "melting pot, hamburger and the American dream".As for Italy, well, it's summarized as "pizza, the Mafia and scooters." And, apparently, Italy's tourism minister, Michela Vittoria Brambilla, has such a lack of humor that she declared the app "offensive and unacceptable," demanded that Apple remove it from the store and (most ridiculous of all) is asking the state's attorney to take legal action against the author. Apparently, someone thinks it's illegal in Italy to make a joke about Italy.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 28th 2010 5:38am
from the investigate-and-let-it-go dept
If you thought such things only happened in the UK, it turns out you'd be wrong. I was just listening to a recent episode of This American Life, which covered an amazingly similar situation, involving American comic Joe Lipari. After having what can charitably be described as a "bad" Apple store experience, he went home and was watching the movie Fight Club -- and got "inspired" by a famous line from the movie, and paraphrased it into a Facebook status reading:
Joe Lipari might walk into an Apple store on 5th Avenue, with an Armalite AR-10 gas-powered semi-automatic weapon and pump round after round into one of those smug, fruity little concierges. This may be someone you've known for years. Someone very, very close to you.It's a pretty direct paraphrase from the movie. Yet, it took all of about an hour for a bunch of NYC police at his door, carrying machine guns and wearing bullet proof vests.
Just like the case of Chambers in the UK, rather than recognizing that this throwaway social media message, charges were filed against Lipari -- and they were pretty serious charges. There were two felony charges -- including one for "making terroristic threats." Rather than dropping it after recognizing this was joke, the case actually started out by going to court -- where the ADA even admitted to the judge that they knew Lipari was a comedian and this was a joke intended for his friends... but they still wanted to push forward. Lipari, to his credit, turned down various plea deals, believing that the whole concept of him being arrested and charged with this was ridiculous. The story ends with the ADA finally backing down, and the case is currently likely to be dismissed (though it hasn't fully been dismissed yet).
The similarities between Chambers' situation in the UK and Lipari's situation in the US seem pretty clear -- and neither are particularly flattering for law enforcement folks. Yes, obviously we still live in a time where "heightened awareness" to potential threats makes sense. But, at some point (and probably some point really, really early on), it should have become clear in both of these cases, that these were just two guys making stupid jokes via their social networking status tools -- and that's the point at which everything should have been dropped. That both cases went much, much further is a travesty, and suggests that law enforcement is wasting time on things like this, rather than real threats.
On a separate note, if you keep listening to the second story on that same episode of This American Life, it's yet another depressing tale of really questionable police activity, and how the police didn't just turn on a guy who tried to fix the system, but literally came up with trumped up charges to get him locked up in a mental institution without telling anyone. Folks in law enforcement talk about the respect that they deserve, but by doing things like this, they show they haven't earned such respect.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, May 25th 2010 3:42pm
Smart: Graduating As Valedictorian Of An Ivy League School; Not Smart: Plagiarizing Part Of Your Speech From A Famous Comedian
from the did-he-think-no-one-would-notice dept
It has come to our attention that a portion of our Valedictorian's remarks at this year's School of General Studies Class Day was taken from a comedy routine by Patton Oswalt. As an institution of higher learning that places a core value on respect for the works of others, we were surprised and disappointed to have learned of this matter today. Columbia University and the School of General Studies do not condone or permit the use of someone else's work without proper citation. The student speaker has appropriately issued an apology to his classmates and to Mr. Oswalt for failing to provide such attribution.Oswalt, for his part, wrote on his own site that while the kid apologized, he wonders about what sort of valedictorian would copy in such a manner:
Brian Corman apologized to me. Flat-out admitted his thievery, his stupidity. Owned it all. Good man. Still makes me wonder what he might have done to become valedictorian -- I mean, if he's willing to steal material for something as inconsequential as a speech, how rubbery did his boundaries become when his GPA and future career were on the line? Oh well.Quite a story all around, and it raises a bunch of different points that we'll hit in bullet form:
- Joke copying: This is a popular topic that we've discussed a few times in the past. While it certainly does piss off comedians, they seem to ignore the fact that it's not just quite common among comedians, but, historically, it was considered quite normal. That's because people realized that there is no monopoly on being funny -- and that it's usually the timing and the delivery that matter much more than the joke itself (which can be seen in the clips above -- where Oswalt's version comes off much funnier than Corman's copy).
- Social mores: But, more importantly, it's the social cost to copying that keeps this from getting too far out of line. In the comic world, comedians who have a reputation as big time joke copiers tend to get shunned. That's not to say that many haven't been successful still, but there is an effort within the community to self police, without any sort of legal regime needed.
- Reputation: Related to that, what this really comes down to is a reputational issue. While Oswalt is wrong to call Corman's actions "stealing," he's right to question the kid's decision, and raise questions about his reputation. For a long time, now, Corman will be tagged as the guy who didn't have the good sense to (a) know that it's inappropriate to copy someone else's work in a valedictiorian speech (b) realize that people would notice and (c) to realize that it would get a lot of attention, including a condemnation from the original comedian in the first place.
by Joyce Hung
Tue, Apr 20th 2010 11:09pm
from the inappropriate-responses dept
The story was certainly inspired by a recent blog post by Joann Bruso claiming that the Happy Meal she had purchased and placed on a shelf for an entire year looked virtually unchanged -- no mold, no decomposition or smells. In this case, McDonald's reacted by posting a response on its website, calling Bruso's story an urban legend.
Apparently, many people fell for Grist's joke because it just seemed so plausible. Allison Arieff, a writer for GOOD and The New York Times, tweeted the news -- and just minutes later, McDonald's Twitter contact tweeted back a very odd reply:
Arieff: "McDonald's scraps composting program because the items on their menu WON'T DECOMPOSE. Yikes. http://ow.ly/1tClQ (via@edibleIA,@edibleSF)"Here's a story that's further spreading the idea that the food at McDonald's is so unnatural that it won't even decompose, and what does McDonald's do? Laugh it off, of course. Was this the right response? Well, it was definitely not one that people were expecting. McDonald's had a chance to address the criticism, but instead they chose to just brush it off. Maybe they didn't want to open a can of worms, and since they're so big, they figured that they could get away with it. And they're probably right -- the number of people who were turned off by their response (or even aware of the story) was likely to be insignificant for the fast food giant.
Molly at McDonald's: "They say April Fools jokes are a form of flattery! This one had us laughing too! ^Mol"
However, it's likely a different story for smaller businesses. They really need to pay attention to and deliver what their customers want. It's probably not a good idea to attempt to brush off customer complaints with "humor." Perhaps even McDonald's should be more careful with its tweets now that everything they say will be archived for posterity. We'll see how long it takes for tweets to decompose.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Feb 9th 2010 10:36am
Comedian Has To Retell Joke 2nd Time, Because Viacom Couldn't Have Him Sing Four Words: 'We Are The World'
from the copyright-insanity dept
One of the performers was one of my favorite comedians named Robert Kelly. He told a really good joke about how he rarely used the word love because it loses its strength if you use it to much. When his wife tells him she loves him, he shrugs it off. When his father told him he loved him, for the first time in his adult life when he graduated high school, he feigned breaking down into tears and acting like an emotional wreck. While doing this, he feigned being hugged and sang the phrase "We are the world". He then went on to his next joke.Remember, all he did was "sing" the four words in the title once. He didn't break out into a full rendition of the song. Just "We Are The World." That's it. And he had to come back out and tell the joke a second time to avoid Comedy Central (really: Viacom) having to clear the rights on that song -- a song that was written for charity. But copyright isn't stopping free expression?
After another comedian, the taping ended. We were informed that the crowd had to stay put because Bob Kelly had to come out and re-film a joke. It was the joke I just mentioned. They said it had to be re-taped because Comedy Central didn't have the rights to the song "We Are The World".
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Aug 31st 2009 12:23pm
from the no-laughing-matter? dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 21st 2009 2:41pm
from the can't-take-a-joke? dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Feb 17th 2009 8:48am
from the ok,-this-is-going-too-far dept
Talk about paranoid. It seems equally likely that whoever was filming it just wanted to show some friends. Besides, if you want to "steal" jokes, can't you do so simply by remembering them. Smashing someone's phone isn't going to stop that. Unless they invent one of those science fiction devices that erase short-term memory, no comedian will ever be able to fully stop others from making use of their jokes (and, in that case, I'd bet the comedian wouldn't do too well, since no one remembers his act).
In this case, Hurst plead guilty and paid a fine for destroying the camera... but says he'll do it again. Then he demanded stronger copyright protection over jokes and said he thinks YouTube should be banned:
"I don't regret what I did because the police wouldn't turn up to defend me, would they? It was in anger, but it is like having your tools stolen if your material is taken. We just need the same protection that is afforded to the cinema on copyright theft.... Ban YouTube -- it is the biggest piece of c*** ever."Perhaps he really doesn't like that up-and-coming competing comedians are using YouTube to their advantage, while he's stuck wallowing in the past. It must suck not to be able to compete with upstarts who know how to embrace modern technology, but that's no excuse for getting violent.