Stephen Colbert is not allowed to be Stephen Colbert, or at least; he can't be the Stephen Colbert who hosted Comedy Central's Colbert Report.

Confused? From 2005 to 2014 the comedian acted as a parody version of himself, acting as a die hard Republican on the Colbert Report, which aired on Comedy Central.

Colbert then left Comedy Central to host the Late Show on CBS after David Letterman stepped down.

While the comedian has largely set aside his old alter ego since leaving his old program, he decided to revive it last week to “celebrate” the start of the GOP convention in Cleveland. Jon Stewart also stepped back into the spotlight.

What seemed like fun and games, however, turned serious when Comedy Central's lawyers contacted CBS's lawyers to tell them that the alter ego is their property. The lawyers apparently also stated that the comedian was not allowed to revive his alter ego.

Stephen Colbert responds

So what did Stephen do? He introduced the world to Stephen Colberts alter ego's identical cousin of the same name. The new alter ego, much the same as the old one, is a Republican blowhard.

Cousin Stephen went as far as to insinuate that the other Stephen, the one “owned” by Comedy Central, is gay, but was quick to point out that he was okay with that.

The Late Show also featured a segment entitled “the Werd”, which was conspicuously similar to “The Word” segment from Stephen's old show. Whether or not we'll be seeing any more alter ego segments, or if the latest jabs were merely a one-off, remains to be seen.

Does Colbert have to worry about legal issues?

Comedy Central and its parent company Viacom does have a very strong case for claiming ownership to Colbert's alter ego

While the alter ego was heavily based on Stephen Colbert, the comedian, it was also a fictional character. As Viacom has paid for the rights to that character, their legal case is strong.

However, the right to make parodies and satires is protected by the Constitution and is considered free speech.

With Colbert satirizing his own satirical character, “cousin” Colbert will likely fall under fair use.

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