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Today in Non-News: Twitter is Deleting Stolen Jokes on Copyright Grounds

TwitterBirdThe Verge has discovered today that Twitter will actually remove a tweet in response to a DMCA take down notice.

Much to their surprise, they wrote:

It now appears Twitter is using its legal authority to crack down on these tweet-stealers. A number of tweets have been deleted on copyright grounds for apparently stealing a bad joke.

As first spotted by @PlagiarismBad, at least five separate tweets have been deleted by Twitter for copying this joke:

Olga Lexell, who, according to her Twitter bio, is a freelance writer in LA, appears to be the first person to publish the joke on Twitter. In a tweet posted this afternoon, she confirmed that she did file a request to have the tweets removed.

Here are a few of the tweets that have been removed:


The reason I am underwhelmed by the news is that Twitter, like any company that provides a service on the internet, will respond to DMCA notices (a quick web search would have uncovered this detail).

Usually notices are filed over the links to infringing content or for pirated images, but Twitter has in the past removed tweets because the text of the tweet is itself infringing.  I can recall one such case from 2013 where the copyright holder went off the deep end in "defense" of a poem which was widely shared on Twitter due to its short length, and there are probably many other examples just a short Google search away.

Twitter will even respond to bogus take down notices (it’s not always easy to tell the difference).

The only really interesting part of this story, in my opinion, concerns the writer claiming copyright over the joke. She has a protected account, which is rather odd in this day and age. But from what I can see in Twitter’s search results, it appears she may have switched her account to protected after she started getting hassled over the  DMCA notices.

That would be unfortunate, if true. I don’t think the DMCA notice is worth the bother just for a mere tweet, but that is irrelevant (her content, her choice) and more importantly it is no reason for a writer to be harassed into seclusion.

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