Putting on the writs...

Leno sues joke book author

Chat show host Jay Leno is suing a joke book author for stealing his material.

Judy Brown has released 19 compilations such as Squeaky Clean Comedy: 1512 Dirt-Free Jokes from the Best Comedians and Jokes To Go: 1,386 Of The Funniest Bits From the Best Comedians.

But in a lawsuit filed yesterday, the comic launched a bid to stop her from profiting from the work of others.

‘Brown is no “author”,’ the lawsuit says: ‘She is simply packaging the original copyrighted work, drawing and profiting from a well of creativity that is not her own.’

The court document adds that Brown ‘apparently covered the L.A. comedy scene as a journalist - thus she has stolen the jokes of the very comedians she was supposed to be writing about’.

Ir further claims: ‘Ms Brown has even sent representatives to comedy clubs to record comedians' routines, so she can then copy the jokes into her books and profit from the original comedic works of others.’

The suit has been filed by Leno and NBC Studios at the US District Court in Los Angeles. Several comedians joined Leno in the suit, the LA Times reports, including Rita Rudner and Jimmy Brogan.

Comics say the books dilute their ability to market their own jokes, while Brown profits.

The lawsuit quotes the cover notes of one of Brown's books, which boasts that readers can enjoy the jokes of 'the best and brightest comedians … without paying the two-drink minimum at a comedy club’.

Earlier this year, Brown posted a comment on Amazon.com defending herself against charges of plagiarism. She said that her material was always attributed, with information about comedians' CDs and DVDs.

Brown, who also teaches stand-up, said she has covered the comedy scene for two decades, writing for magazines and newspapers including the Los Angeles Times.

‘If my intent had been to steal, I could have printed the quotes without attribution,’ she wrote.

Leno says that if his lawsuit is successful, he plans to donate any proceeds to charity.

Published: 30 Nov 2006

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