Conan O'Brien targeted in lawsuit claiming he lifted jokes from Twitter

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Writer Claims Conan O'Brien Stole His Jokes


A San Diego man has filed a lawsuit against Conan O'Brien, TBS and others on the comedian's team for allegedly violating copyright on four jokes.

According to a complaint filed on July 22 in California federal court by Robert Kaseberg, the jokes were posted on a personal blog and on Twitter before making it into O'Brien's late night show monologue.

Kaseberg says he published the first joke in 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."

That same day, O'Brien made a similar joke on his show.

One of the other jokes dealt with Tom Brady and the other with Caitlyn Jenner. The fourth joke was about 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."

This allegedly formed the basis for Conan's own joke.

"We at Conaco firmly believe there is no merit to this lawsuit," responds the production company behind the Conan television show.

The new lawsuit comes amid some focus on joke theft on Twitter. This past week, a few jokes published on the media service were removed, apparently at the request of a freelance writer. This led to numerous articles that Twitter was taking joke theft seriously, though it's probably nothing more than an individual submitting a simple form pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Internet service providers only give light scrutiny towards takedown requests. By expeditiously removing material that's claimed to be a violation of copyright, services like Twitter gain an affirmative defense against copyright liability. Users who have material removed then have the opportunity of submitting a counter-notice, which typically results in restoration and provides notice to the rights holder of whom to sue if there's still a dispute.

Tweets stolen for broadcast television obviously invoke a very different legal process. Kaseberg is demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars in actual and statutory damages. Here's the full complaint.

Click through for photos of Conan O'Brien:

18 PHOTOS
Conan O'Brien
See Gallery
Conan O'Brien targeted in lawsuit claiming he lifted jokes from Twitter
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Liza Powel O'Brien (L) and TV host Conan O'Brien attends the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 22, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Conan O' Brein arrives at the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Presenter Conan O'Brien addresses the audience at the 2014 Princess Grace Awards Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
FILE - In this Dec. 12, 2013, file photo, talk show host Conan O'Brien arrives for the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences awards in Moffett Field, Calif. A home owned by O'Brien has been removed from a Rhode Island auction after he paid some back taxes on the property. Town officials tell the Westerly Sun that O'Brien paid his $8,000 bill on Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
Talk show host Conan O'Brien arrives for the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences awards Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, in Moffett Field, Calif. The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences recognizes excellence in research aimed at curing intractable diseases and extending human life. The prize is administered by the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to advancing breakthrough research, celebrating scientists and generating excitement about the pursuit of science as a career. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Television host Conan O'Brien calls a horse race at Santa Anita Park, the host track for next month's Breeders' Cup, the richest event in thoroughbred racing, under the watchful eye of long-time track announcer Trevor Denman, not seen, in Arcadia, Calif., Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. O'Brien hosts "Conan" weeknights on TBS. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Triumph The Insult Comic Dog and Conan O'Brien perform on stage during Festival Supreme at the Santa Monica Pier, on Saturday, October 19, 2013 in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)
From left, Conan O'Brien, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jimmy Fallon speak onstage at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre on Sunday Sept. 22, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Phil McCarten/Invision for Academy of Television Arts & Sciences/AP Images)
Late-night television host and comedian Conan O'Brien and first lady Michelle Obama, right, attend the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel, Saturday, April 27, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Conan O'Brien delivers the Commencement Address at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., Sunday June 12, 2011 after receiving an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from the school. The College awarded 1782 degrees, both undergraduate and graduate, during the ceremony. (AP Photo/Jason R. Henske)
FILE - This May 24, 2012 file photo shows late night talk show host Conan O'Brien speaking during a forum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. TBS says it's extending Conan O'Brien's late-night hour through November 2015. O'Brien premiered ?Conan? on TBS in November 2010, some months after his departure from a short-lived stint as host of NBC's "Tonight" show. He left NBC when Jay Leno was returned as ?Tonight? host. Although "Conan" averages just 900,000 viewers nightly, it leads the late-night pack in social media engagement and online activity, according to TBS."Conan," hosted by O'Brien with Andy Richter as announcer, airs Monday through Thursday at 11 p.m. Eastern time. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, file)
Former The Tonight Show host Conan O'Brien performs at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene, Ore., Monday, April 12, 2010. O'Brien, who quit the show rather than host it at 12:05 a.m. after the return of Jay Leno to late night television, is kicking off his The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour in Eugene. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
** FILE ** Conan O'Brien holds the awards for outstanding writing for a variety, music or comedy program for "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards in this Sept. 16, 2007 file photo, in Los Angeles. While Craig Ferguson and david Letterman will have their writing staffs when they return Wednesday Jan.2, 2008, O'Brien, Jay Leno, and Jimmy Kimmel will be deprived of their writers' services while, improvising, they retool the talk-show format and do, well, who knows what? (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)
Conan O'Brien, picked by NBC to replace "Late Night" host, David Letterman, holds a news conference, May 3, 1993 in New York. The 30-year-old Harvard graduate and Emmy award winner previously worked for "Saturday Night Live" and "The Simpsons". His show will premiere in late August. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm)
Conan O?Brien, left, who will take David Letterman?s spot on ?Late Night,? is welcomed to NBC by Jay Leno during taping of ?The Tonight Show,? April 26, 1993 in Burbank, California. O?Brien, was a former writer for "Saturday Night Live." (AP Photo/Julie Markes)
NBC television's "Late Night" host Conan O'Brien, right, reacts to a hug by model Fabio on June 19, 1997 as O'Brien's sidekick Andy Richter applauds. O'Brien's hitting the comic bulls-eye more than ever these days, and not just insomniacs are noticing. NBC rewarded him with a five-year contract extension for his rising ratings. (AP PHOTO/Lesly Weiner)
David Letterman, left, chats with his NBC successor Conan O?Brien at the Center of Communications annual luncheon honoring former ?Tonight Show? host Johnny Carson in New York on Monday, May 24, 1993. Letterman, once considered a prime prospect to succeed Carson, is winding down his ?Late Night with David Letterman? before moving to CBS-TV in competition with the ?Tonight Show.? (AP Photo/Steve Friedman)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

More from The Hollywood Reporter:
Did the 'Trainwreck' Shooter Purposefully Target a Feminist Movie?
'Vacation': Film Review
Lena Dunham, Kate Winslet Face Off With Amnesty International Over Sex-Trade Debate
Read Full Story

From Our Partners