Robert Kaseberg is seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars.
By Raif Karerat
WASHINGTON, DC: A San Diego, California man has filed a lawsuit against Conan O’Brien and his writing team for allegedly violating copyright on four jokes.
The Hollywood Reporter unearthed the complaint, filed on July 22 in California federal court by Robert Kaseberg, which claimed the jokes were posted on a personal blog and on Twitter before finding their way into O’Brien’s late night show monologue.
Kaseberg attests he published the first stolen joke on January 14, writing, “A Delta flight this week took off from Cleveland to New York with just two passengers. And they fought over control of the armrest the entire flight.” The joke subsequently aired on O’Brien’s show that very same night.
The other jokes that were allegedly stolen refer to Tom Brady, Caitlyn Jenner, and the Washington Monument.
“The Washington Monument is ten inches shorter than previously thought,” Kaseberg tweeted. “You know the winter has been cold when a monument suffers from shrinkage.” Per Kasberg’s lawsuit, his tweet formed the basis of Conan’s own joke.
“We at Conaco firmly believe there is no merit to this lawsuit,” said Drew Shane, a rep for Conaco, the production company behind O’Brien’s show, in a statement to USA Today.
Meanwhile, Andy Richter, longtime cohort to O’Brien, took to Twitter to address the litigation in a more unabashed manner, writing: “There’s no possible way more than one person could have concurrently had these same species-elevating sights! THESE TAKES ARE TOO HOT!”
Medialite also uncovered a post from February on Kaseberg’s blog that recounted a conversation between the freelance writer and Conan’s head writer, Mike Sweeney:
For what seemed like 15 agonizing minutes, Mike Sweeney, the head writer of “Conan,” angrily and loudly denied those were my jokes. He was furious that I was accusing them of stealing jokes, but most of all he was incensed that I would suggest his writers would have anything to do with my pathetic blog and it’s [sic] author, me, a no-name failure …To be told by anyone you’re a failure as a comedy writer hurts. To be told you’re a crazy failure by the head writer of one of your comedy idols is much worse. It is devastating.
Kaseberg is seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation from O’Brien’s team.
According to THR, Twitter is beginning to take intellectual property seriously. This past week, a few jokes published on the social media service were removed, apparently at the request of a freelance writer.