No one is immune to reposters. You’ve seen their shady and shoddy work on any number of social media websites. The heavily-filtered and pixelated screenshots of stolen jokes and other memes have been shared by your family members on Facebook or retweeted by your annoying friend on Twitter.
It’s not just annoying, though: it’s theft. And worse yet, there are people making money – yes, real money – by ripping off other people’s creations. One of the most well-known offenders, internet celebrity Josh Ostrovsky known as “The Fat Jew” has recently been criticized for succumbing to the trend of reposting.
What this means, in simple terms, is that Ostrovsky and the like will take a screenshot of a funny and original tweet/instagram/tumblr post, cut out the name of the original poster, and then post that work on their own account, claiming it as their own work. Accounts like The Fat Jew will gain popularity and therefore gain corporate sponsorship, so that every time they make a post and mention a company in the caption, they’re making money off of the stolen work.
Though the term “reposting” was coined somewhat recently, the issue of work being stolen and plagiarized on the internet is far from new. Photo and art sharing websites like DeviantArt, Flickr and Tumblr have been plagued by thieves of all sorts, some who pass it off as wanting to share the work and some who fully commit to passing the work off on their own. Misattribution, too, has come under fire as a huge issue for artists, whether intentional or not. Websites like weheartit.com will repost work and then appear as the source when the work goes viral, or a caption with the artist’s information will be removed in the sharing process and so the work will go misattributed often indefinitely.
Joke plagiarism is a well-known issue in the world of comedy, from blatant offenders like Carlos Mencia to people in the muddled gray-area of inspiration like Dane Cook.
Fat Jew has claimed that any blatant theft from his instagram or other sources was done by interns, but hasn’t made any attempt to stop his behavior. And of course he isn’t the only offender: tons of Instagram, Twitter and other social media users are not only gaining popularity but receiving endorsements from companies because of their popular postings.
It’s dangerous to mess with comedians, though. One of the powerful things about being a comedian is that you’re comfortable with being confrontational and outspoken. Comedian Kumail Nanjiani, along with others, started a brutal campaign against Ostrovsky in order to call him out and make it clear that his behavior would not be tolerated by the comedy community.
“Just saw the movie Jaws directed by @FatJew. It’s great”
“As @FatJew once said, ‘I have a dream.’”
“Keep waiting for someone to come forward saying they called themselves Fat Jew first.”
“Hey guys @FatJew just started a political organization. He’s calling it ISIS.”
It’s hard to imagine that even the toughest of personalities would survive that kind of attack. Since this outcry, The Fat Jew has supposedly lost a contract for a television show with Comedy Central and has presumably – and hopefully – been blacklisted from most respectable comedy sources whether they be websites or major networks. This will hopefully be a lesson to others out there thinking they can make a buck off of someone else’s creativity.