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There are two ways to copy and paste things in X. First, there is the selection buffer; you highlight to copy and middle-click to paste; this always works in any application in X. Then there is also the clipboard (Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, or something like that), but that is only supported mainly by modern GUI applications.
I figured out what went wrong: I'd copied the whole line instead of just the command. If I only select a number of characters instead of all the space on the line as well everything works fine.
Thanks for pointing that out! I'd read about it, but never thought of using it and it's a great help.