Comedian Dan Wilbur recently heard from a friend that one of his jokes had been published in Reader’s Digest. It was the first he’d heard of it, because the magazine had taken it from Twitter without contacting him. So he wrote an email to the editors, saying, in part:
When I heard my joke was featured, it made me feel good. Getting a joke printed in Reader's Digest is one of the few successes in my career that I can explain to my mom without needing to explain at length what people do on the Internet nowadays. So when I call my mom and tell her to look in September's Genius Issue of your magazine for my joke, the first thing she'll ask is why there's an @ symbol in front of my name. Then I'll have to explain that, well, I didn't really ask you guys to print it, nor did I get paid, and then she's going to ask me what, if anything, in comedy DOES pay, and then she's going to ask when I'm going to get a real job and settle down and have kids and why I drink so much, and that's just too much to deal with in one conversation, you know?
There’s a lot more to it, in which Wilbur informed them that the proper way to use Tweets was to retweet digitally (Reader’s Digest has a Twitter feed), or pay him for his work, or at least ask next time.
I never expected a response, but just three days later, I got a response from Features Editor Andrew Simmons saying “Just so you know, your email spawned a pretty heavy meeting that included editors, rights department, research department, lawyers, and a spilled cup of Starbucks.” I said thank you and offered him my condolences that he had to attend a meeting. He was very sweet and he was very happy to report that the magazine would be doing the right thing from now on.