Convicted Criminal Says His Name Is Copyrighted, Sues Court For Infringement

from the ah,-copyright-law dept

Not that this guy has much of a case, but if you want an example of just how screwy copyright law is, take a look at this case. A prison inmate in Missouri who was convicted of mail fraud is trying to sue the judge in his case for copyright infringement - claiming that he owns the copyright on his name. He's demanding $33 million - $500,000 for each time the name is mentioned in court documents. Amusingly, the newspaper article does not name the guy. Perhaps they're afraid of a lawsuit, too? Of course, sending out bogus lawsuits against the federal government probably isn't such a good idea. They're countersuing him for making false claims. He's also in trouble because he didn't actually file the legal documents to sue, but made up fake ones. Of course, while you may scoff at the claim that this guy has a copyright on his name, it may not be that far-fetched, since the Supreme Court has now said that Rosa Parks can sue the band Outkast for using her name in a song.


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    LittleW0lf, Dec 9th, 2003 @ 7:27pm

    Apples and Oranges...

    ...the Supreme Court has now said that Rosa Parks can sue the band Outkast for using her name in a song.

    Apples and Oranges, Mike. Rosa Parks sued Outkast for defamation, not copyright. You cannot legally copyright a name, you can only Trademark it. Hence, if Microsoft was to sue someone for using "Windows" as a name for their product using the copyright laws, they would be laughed out of court. But if they sue under Trademark law, they wouldn't.

    IANAL... In Rosa's case, she merely needed to prove that Outkast had said something about her that they knew was false or misleading, and the actual result of such a statement injured her reputation or exposed her to hatred, redicule, contempt or defradation by the public. Earlier courts had ruled in favor of Outkast, but the Supreme Court had decided to favor Parks. I also see reference in some of the material that the Lanham act was involved with the decision, which is the Trademark law. Maybe she had trademarked her name too...

    In this case, the guy is an idiot, because you cannot copyright names, nor can you copyright facts, which court documents tend to consist of. If he had trademarked his name, then he might, though not likely, have had a case (doubtful at best, especially since the fabrication of evidence.)

     

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      Mike (profile), Dec 9th, 2003 @ 7:46pm

      Re: Apples and Oranges...

      Agreed, agreed... the Rosa Parks case reference was supposed to be a joke, to go along with a jokey story. Apparently, it backfired... Sorry.

       

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        Oliver Wendell Jones, Dec 10th, 2003 @ 6:37am

        Re: Apples and Oranges...

        The other caveat is that copyright is intended to protect your intellectual property - i.e., things you create.

        Unless he has legally changed his name to something of his own choosing, his *parents* would technically hold the copyright on his name, as they are most likely the ones that 'created' that bit of intellectual property.

         

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          LittleW0lf, Dec 10th, 2003 @ 8:34pm

          Re: Apples and Oranges...

          Unless he has legally changed his name to something of his own choosing, his *parents* would technically hold the copyright on his name.

          Hmmm....another good point.

          When I first read your post, I thought about trademarks on public figure's names, since they weren't the ones to come up with the name, could they legally trademark their name? Then I remembered that there was no implicit requirement that a person comes up with the name in order to trademark the name, they just have to be the first to use it in trade. But since a number of actors aren't using their real names anyway, I guess they could come up with their own names.

           

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