Editor settles copyright suit with Jay Leno

January 24, 2008 7:52:54 AM PST
A humor editor who published books of jokes by Jay Leno and other comedians without their permission has apologized and agreed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

Judy Brown and her publishers has settled the federal copyright infringement lawsuit filed on behalf of NBC Studios; Leno; Rita Rudner; Jimmy Brogan; Diane Nichols; Sue Pascoe; Kathleen Madigan and Bob Ettinger.

"I thought it was important to make it clear that jokes are protected like any other art form," Leno said in a statement.

Brown's attorney, Ralph Loeb, declined to comment Wednesday on the settlement.

However, in a statement Brown apologized. "The best comedians may make comedy seem easy, but I know it takes talent, hard work and careful preparation to make people laugh," she said. "That is why I am settling this lawsuit by agreeing never again to publish their jokes without asking their permission to do so."

The suit claimed that Brown collected thousands of jokes that appeared in 19 books over a decade without permission of the writers. The books include "The Funny Pages," "Funny You Should Know That" and "Joke Stew."

The settlement calls for Brown and her publishers to pay damages, stop producing the joke books and make efforts to pull existing copies from bookstores.

Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., an attorney who represented the comedians and NBC, declined to disclose the amount of damages but said Leno, Rudner and NBC were donating their settlement portions to charity, and his law firm would contribute some of its fees. Together, he said, that would add up to "hundreds of thousands of dollars."