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Using a joke in my writing

by Barb
(Pennsylvania)

I want to use a joke in my writing that I saw on the internet, but have no idea who originally wrote it so that I can seek permission to use it.


How would I handle this? Thanks.

ANSWER

If you cannot prove that the joke is in the public domain, and you can't attribute it to an author, then the best you can do is make it obvious that you're not trying to pretend that the joke originated with you.

In nonfiction, you might use italics or quotation marks to identify the quoted portion and then cite the Internet source with an endnote or in-text citation.

If you're writing fiction and you want a character to make the joke, you might have the character say that he or she read the joke on the Internet before repeating it, the way you might if you were repeating it to a friend.

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