Josh Ostrovsky, aka social media comedy phenomenon @thefatjewish, has had a hell of a week.
It’s been a slow burn, that seems to be picking up steam. First, a little while back he lost his Comedy Central deal, likely because of comedians and other Internet folks’ outspoken criticism of his stealing the vast majority of his jokes from other, less popular folks. Next, every outlet ever took offense of his blatant plagiarism, piggybacking on well known comedians such as Pattton Oswalt and Twitter humor aficionados in response to the alleged punchline and meme thief inking a deal with the prestigious CAA agency, home to such unimpeachable comedy legends as Jimmy Fallon and Chelsea Handler.
It seems that even the Internet has its limits, and Ostrovsky has found them.
Yet one key fact is being overlooked: Ostrovsky, under the handle @thefatjewish, derives the vast majority of his fame via his 5.6 million Instagram followers. It’s a number that has enabled him to monetize his existence both with products—such as his “white girl rosé”—and endorsements, including a wide variety of fashion and lifestyle brands.
But with so many smaller comedian types calling foul on his behavior of blatantly screenshotting and reposting others’ material, he’s making one grave mistake: He’s outright violating Instagram’s hallowed Terms of Service agreement.
It’s spelled out in no less than three places.
First, there’s this:
Right out of the gate, Ostrovsky’s stealing of other users’ images and text is violating this. There have been countless instances of Ostrovsky “borrowing” from other lesser-known and unpaid accounts to reap his fortune.
Second, Instagram warns outright, in plain English:
“If you repeatedly infringe other people’s intellectual property rights, we will disable your account when appropriate.”
Yet how is it that @thefatjewish is still a member of the community? His infractions are documented, again and again. Perhaps everyone who feels as though they’ve been bitten by his apparently insatiable thirst for others’ content should file a claim with Instagram.
And in case the first two statements from the photo-sharing service’s bylaws weren’t clear, the Facebook-owned social network says it one more time:
“We can’t provide you with any legal advice. If you’re not sure that you are legally authorized to use the content, do not post it on Instagram. Posting copyrighted content without permission might be a violation of the law. If you’ve already posted it, you should remove it from Instagram.”
Yet Ostrovsky and his fellow meme-and-content-biting social media stars continue to pick and choose from others’ comedic thoughts. How is this possible? Where’s the Instagram community team to enforce its own rules? It’s not like they want to #freethenipple, they’re instead blatantly ripping off those more clever than themselves, for their own massive profit.
It should be an easy fix, really. Your move, Instagram.
A request for comment from the Instagram team by The Daily Beast had not been returned by press time.