Internet personality/Instagram famous comedian the Fat Jew is having a bad August.
After news surfaced that he had been signed by elite talent agency CAA, several comedians renewed their claims that the Fat Jew (real name Josh Ostrovsky) had stolen their jokes by taking a screenshot of the gag, stripping out the original username, and then posting them to his hugely popular Instagram account as his own. He has been called a thief by many comedians both struggling and prominent.
The Fat Jew doesn't see it that way. In an exclusive interview with Vulture's Jesse David Fox, Ostrovsky says he has never "intentionally" stolen a joke from anyone; rather, it was a matter of not knowing the rules.
"I didn't realize that if you don't have a source for something, then you couldn't necessarily post it," Ostrovsky tells Fox. "I don't think that was always clear."
"I'm very on the cutting-edge of the internet."
Ostrovsky says that he will begin sourcing all of his material and giving credit to the originators of the jokes. (Fusion's Taryn Hillin argues that he should have been doing this in the first place.) He also says that he is having his interns go through all of his old Instagram posts to add credits where applicable. This doesn't really help the original joke-teller, of course, since the post in question would have long since gone viral, and most readers would not see that it has been updated with full attribution.
As The Huffington Post's Jackie Oshry adds, there's an open question of whether this will spur on other Instagram comedy accounts–the popular Fuck Jerry, for example, or any number of similar borrow-happy handles–to adopt similar attribution methods. Brian Feldman argues that at least part of the onus should fall on Instagram, for not including sourcing functionality in its app.