Made a meme? Get an agent!

Hello again gang, I hope everyone’s final craze has been okay. I know I have been up since two in the morning – until I realized that I was looking at stupid memes on the internet. In case you have been living under a rock, (or a digital immigrant) memes are viral jokes that are posted online and edited and remade hundreds of thousands of times by other users on the internet. Did you know that there now exists a service that can allow you to protect your own memes as intellectual property? Ben Lashes, who represents the people such as “Scumbag Steve” and the guy who created Keyboard cat in the 1980’s. Guess what? Steve is a actual scumbag in real life, too! Who is bad at rapping!

Conveniently, not pictured is the total lack of a crowd.

Anyway, Ben Lashes is protecting the owners and subjects of memes from people who wish to make money off of them. I was happy to hear this, as he is not trying to prevent distribution of already well-known icons among the internet community. That was my first worry when I saw someone was copywriting memes – as we all know, major businesses are cashing in on the popularity of viral videos and meme. For example, the image of the Dos Equis “Most interesting man in the world” has become a meme – with over 10,000 images in this database alone. So, it is easy to worry when individuals like Ben Lashes begin protecting memes: what if companies begin doing the same? What if Scumbag Steve was the new face for Louis Vuitton?

Do you think it is risky to begin legally protecting memes? Or does protection of the identities of people depicted as memes outweigh the cons?

4 responses to “Made a meme? Get an agent!

  1. It may be a bit risky due to the way memes are created and distributed. As you mentioned, memes are “edited and remade hundreds of thousands of times by other users on the internet.” Because of that, anyone could easily claim how their specific meme is different or unique. Creating a meme off an existing one is like creating fanart for a cartoon you see on TV. Once a person claims ownership, new memes can no longer be created. Drawing off my analogy, it’d be illegal for a kid to doodle a simple cartoon character in his or her class notes. Don’t get me wrong. People in memes should be protected from the trolling on the web, especially if they are being cruelly offended. Also, copying people’s work and making money off of it is just plain wrong. I have nothing against what Ben Lashes is doing, but he should be careful with how he goes about doing it.

  2. I have never considered the legality of using a photo for memes. I sort of assumed that they were not really owned by anyone. But I think that if a person technically owns the photo then they should have rights to the money made from the photo. Personally, I do not know anyone who makes money off memes, rather I was under the impression that it was just something that internet comics did in their spare time. I agree with you that people should not be claiming rights to the distribution of the meme because once someone posts a picture on the Internet, it is pretty fair game of who owns it. But like jnguye14 said, I just think that people like Ben Lashes should be careful about how they go about doing what they are doing.

  3. So, before i read this article i didn’t even know what a meme was, i’ve seen thousands of them but never knew that had a name. Like Jordan i thought that people just mad this stuff for fun in their spare time, copyrighting something like that would be like copyrighting graffiti on the walls in downtown. Memes are generally about expressing some kind of opinion and if it starts to get bogged down in copyright laws and stuff like that i feel it will lose a lot of its individuality and expressiveness.

  4. Like wise to @kelceylarue, I didn’t even know what meme was until I of course googled it then notice it’s everthing I see on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram new feed. But like keyceylarue and jhibbs1. Meme I think is a great way to entertain others with laughs, is should be shared work to be laughed at and if law gets tangled into it, it takes the funny out. Meaning, yea it’s wrong taking credit for other’s work, but should share the photo/image and share the joy of it into funny stuff. For example on twiter I follow @BadLuckBrian ( where it’s about this guy and how it’s a different capition and it’s funny. Like the What People Think I Do / What I Really Do Meme and other’s. I think that meme should be open to express other’s ideas, but don’t be a jerk and take credit for another’s work. Meme should be open to share and create more into a person’s work. Spread ideas and create different things.

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