Louis Threatens His Audience With Legal Action

The comedian issues a gag order
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2019 1:40 PM CDT
Updated May 11, 2019 2:40 PM CDT
New Louis CK Show Comes With Legal Warning
In this Aug. 9, 2017, file photo, Louis CKparticipates in a panel at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Louis CK's attempted comeback now comes with a warning: Copy or transmit anything from my show and you're in trouble, the New York Times reports. The legal notice was issued by Acme Comedy Company in Minneapolis for CK's four-night stay there that started Tuesday. Tweeted by writer James Shotwell, the statement explains that CK "owns all rights in the content materials, including any jokes and sketches," and anyone who relays that material on any medium without his "express prior written consent" will be "subject to all available legal remedies, whether in equity or at law at the cost of anyone who violates this prohibition." The gag order echoes other comedians' frustration with their material being recorded and posted online.

In fact, cellphone bans are becoming standard at comedy shows, per the Times. "They spend a year or two working on material that is the basis of their income, and then it ends up in an unfinished form online for free," says Noam Dworman, a friend of CK's who owns the Comedy Cellar in New York. "It's terrible for them." But can CK actually pursue legal action against his fans? Legal experts say it's a touchy question that depends on whether a joke or sketch is more than an idea, which can't be copyrighted. That said, CK did get audience members to agree to his terms before the show. Reaction online, meanwhile, isn't too sympathetic. "The irony here is that Louis CK suddenly cares about consent, but only when it comes to his precious material," writes Hazel Cills at Jezebel. (More Louis CK stories.)

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