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Have you heard the one about…

Ever heard a comedian tell a joke you heard somewhere else? Turns out, there’s a whole series of unwritten rules that, more or less, govern the otherwise-lawless world of stand up comedy material.

Now, two University of Virginia law professors have taken a scholarly look at how the people who make us laugh avoid killing each other over stolen jokes.  They’ve even written a law review article called: “There’s No Free Laugh (Anymore): The Emergence of Intellectual Property Norms and the Transformation of Stand-Up Comedy.”

If that’s their idea of a snappy title, we don’t expect the article to be a laugh riot, but there’s a good write-up about the study at the U.Va. Web site.

By Peter Vieth

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