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Did you hear the one about the copyrighted joke?

by Giles Turnbull -- 2002/02/18

Just to prove how hard it can be to keep control over copyrighted material on the net, one author has been horrified to find his work widely circulated by email.

Tom Sharp keeps hearing his work on the radio, and seeing it in newspapers, without any credit for him. As someone who depends on royalties from his books for income, this must be very frustrating.

This story also highlights a disturbingly common practice among journalists: that of re-printing, without any background checking, anything that arrives by email.

Fine, email is a useful tool for the diarist or columnist to receive anonymous tip-offs. But copying-and-pasting email jokes into a newspaper story, and calling it "an internet column" is outrageous laziness.