Public Domain Jokes should Remain Free

Free Jokes are not just a joke. There is a new and growing problem with free jokes: What if they get taken down? What if they are in the public domain, but you want them private?

It has happened before.

In the early days of the Internet, many joke writers were happy to share their jokes for free. But as the web evolved, so made the jokes. These jokesters started charging for their jokes out of concern that they would soon be taken offline or disappear from search engines.

“Jokes should remain Free forever”

Brent W. Peterson, founder of the #FreeJokeProject

As these fears grew into a reality, more and more websites started charging for their jokes in order to continue generating joke revenue. The result was that many websites stopped offering their jokes for free out of security concerns. The head of comedy at Jokeflix called this the “Joke Cold War”.

This trend negatively affects even those sites that keep their jokes freely available online and in the public domain. As long as anyone can take your site offline or remove it from search engines just by paying someone else, you will have little income from your jokes.

If you create original jokes and plan to make money off them, you should probably charge people to access them rather than make them freely available. However, Suppose you are creating original jokes that have not been copyrighted elsewhere. In that case, there is no need to worry about them being taken down or removed from the Internet anytime soon!

Don’t worry, you aren’t going to lose your free jokes forever

The Internet is a constantly changing place. New laws are enacted, old laws are repealed, and new laws are passed all the time to protect our jokes. There is always the possibility that someone will sue you for copyright infringement or that a website you host your jokes on may be sued.

But that doesn’t mean you have to start charging people immediately. The general rule is that if you want to keep your jokes available online, you must copyright them. Once you do that, nobody has the right to take your jokes down or take away your ability to earn money from them. You can still keep your jokes available online without charging money for them.

When you share your jokes online, you aren’t really giving them away for free. Instead, you are giving the people who see your jokes the right to be able to laugh at them and at you. If someone else copies these jokes from your website and puts them on their own website, they aren’t stealing anything. Instead, they are just using the jokes you told them without getting credit for doing so.

That’s copyright. Copyright protects original works like jokes and artistic works like paintings and sculptures. If you copyright your work, others can’t copy it and put it on their websites. They can’t copy and use your work in their classrooms or public performances. But most importantly, they can’t take your work off the Internet and make no money off it.

Creative Commons CC0 license is the best way to ensure nobody loses your jokes.

Copyright is a fundamental legal right. But it is not the best way to ensure that nobody loses their jokes. That’s because copyright lasts for the life of the work and all derivative works. That includes jokes that are funny and jokes that are not funny.

This means that every time you write a joke and share it online, you are giving away the exclusive right to use it for a limited amount of time. This can be a few seconds, or it can be for years. The only way to ensure nobody loses your exclusive rights to use your jokes is to copyright your work. Once you take this step, you never have to worry about your jokes being taken down or removed from the Internet again.

This also ensures if your jokes are not funny and people demand they get taken down, those jokes will still remain free in the public domain.

A note about translations and remixes of your jokes

Jokes are generally copyrighted in the same way as they are written in their original language. But the same rules do not apply to translations and remixes. Let’s look at this example:

Did you hear that the inventor of autocorrect died?

May he rust in place.

The joke in Swedish looks like this

Har du hört att uppfinnaren av autokorrigering har dött?

Må han rosta på sin plats.

Can you see the difference? They are both equally funny but the second joke is now public domain.

When a translator or remixer creates a new work using one of your jokes as part of a new artistic work, they do not need your permission. They only need to get permission from the original author of the joke.

All you need to do is copyright your work. This can be done by writing a short essay on how your work is funny and why other people should care. Once you copyright your work, you can rest easy knowing that nobody has the right to take it down or make money off of it.


Copyrighting your jokes solves the problem of nobody taking your jokes down. It also gives you the right to make money from your jokes and control how it is used.

You can also anonymously apply to copyright your work, which can help protect your work from being used without your permission. It’s important to copyright your work as soon as possible; doing so not only gives you the right to protect your work but also helps you remember what it is!

Check out the #FreeJokeProject here.

Free Joke Project
Free Joke Project


  • Brent W. Peterson

    Who is Brent Peterson? Brent is a serial entrepreneur and marketing professional with a passion for running. He co-founded Wagento and has a new adventure called ContentBasis. Brent is the host of the podcast Talk Commerce. He has run 25 marathons and one Ironman race. Brent has been married for 29 years. He was born in Montana, and attended the University of Minnesota and Birmingham University without ever getting his degree.

    View all posts

Leave a Comment