Prisoners Figure Copyright Abuse Is A Way To Get Out Of Jail

from the a-sign-of-the-times dept

Well, we’ve seen all kinds of companies abuse copyright law for a variety of purposes, and it seemed only a matter of time until outright criminals caught on as well. A group of inmates apparently copyrighted their names and then demanded millions of dollars from the prison they were in for using their names without permission. The claims were sent to the warden of the prison and when he didn’t pay up, the prisoners were able to file claims against his property — and then hired someone to seize the warden’s property and freeze his bank accounts. At this point they then demanded to be released from prison before they would return the property. Instead, they were charged with extortion and “conspiring to impede the duties of federal prison officials.” While the story is amusing, it does show how copyright law is being perceived these days. As intellectual property lawyers push more and more ridiculous positions concerning copyright law, people are beginning to realize that it can be used as a hammer for all kinds of ridiculous lawsuits that have absolutely nothing to do with creating incentives for the creation of new content.

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Comments on “Prisoners Figure Copyright Abuse Is A Way To Get Out Of Jail”

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Greg (user link) says:

Hahahaha. That’s a really ingenious, if somewhat unrealistic plan. They should’ve left it at the copyright and seizure of assets, and not tried to negotiate a release. Sadly, that might actually have left them with a case. At any rate, it’s a hilarious prank.

The biggest flaw I see is that since it didn’t work, and they’re still in jail, that warden is more than likely going to tell the guards it’s open season on these guys.

Duh says:

Ever heard of an urban legend?

This reads like an urban legend because it is ridiculous to imagine that if I ACCUSE you of copyright violations I would get to “seize” your property without first winning a court judgment. No court would rule against the warden to seize anything under these circumstances. In fact no one needs to “copyright their names” because if someone uses my name to make money, I can sue them without any copyright required. But, if I say “CopyCat is an idiot” I don’t owe him squat, because its his screen name and I can say it all I want as long as I don’t use it to make money. Try to be a little less gullible, CopyCat.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Ever heard of an urban legend?

all I can say is, your nick is very appropriate…

you don’t need jack shit…I can go out and try to seize whatever I want, without any court order…although this would be considered stealing, I can still go out and try to do it

and when you do have a court order, there’s not much *try* involved now is there

Duh says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Ever heard of an urban legend?

To _legally seize_ property, you would have to have something more than just the claim that someone was violating copyright law by saying your fucking name. Case closed.
BTW, just because this appeared in a British newspaper does not somehow mean that they got the facts right. A number of urban legends have been fueled by lazy-ass reporters who repeat BS as fact in their news stories. So, until you see evidence to the contrary, I wouldn’t believe it.
And remember as the following link shows, “when I tell you to do something you do it” or else:

Scratch McGoo (profile) says:

You gotta tip your hat to this rare display of ingenuity and psychological aggression by the inmates. The warden is definitely going to declare “open season” on these guys. However, I would think that this whole fiasco has earned them some street-cred and respect.

If I was a C.O. at this facility I would be laughing my ass off with everyone else in the bar after work.

Kudos to the inmates involved. You’ll get ’em next time…

Jason says:

Who the fuck charged them with extortion and conspiring to impede the duties of a federally funded kidnapper? Their names WERE being used without permission. In addition to that, they were abducted by government funded kidnappers, and are currently being held against their will. Their privacy rights have been shit upon. Their UNALIENABLE rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have been thrown out the window. Jail is a serious violation of human rights. Violent offenders should be killed, non-violent offenders broke no law, regardless of what they are charged with. The country needs to give up the astronomical costs of government funded police, and establish vigilante law. It would work much better, and nobodies life would have to be ruined. If you disagree, you are wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Actual article is fairly divergent from this s

The actual article makes clear that these crooks weren’t working with a real copyright lawyer, but with an undercover FBI agent…

OK, so the undercover FBI agent was impersonating a real copyright lawyer? Now that’s scary. How do you know when you hire a lawyer if he might turn out to actually be a government agent? Especially since the courts have ruled that that it’s legal for law enforcement agents to lie.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Actual article is fairly divergent from th

I’m not sure if the FBI agent pretended to be a lawyer, since well, it’s actually a crime to pretend to be one, which would be a serious problem for any gov’t agent who did so.

Cops play by special rules. There are a lot of things that are crimes for “civilians” that aren’t for cops.

And they certainly couldn’t give testimony based on that.

Undercover cops give testimony all the time based on things they did that would be illegal for most other people.

G Money says:

This post is a load of crap

This is a load of crap. The copyright office does not permit registration of individual words, personal names, etc., The situation in question was an ATTEMPT by a single misguided inmate, and it failed miserably.

The prisons are full of jailhouse lawyers, and they’re all willing to try anything to get out, or make some money… mostly, they fail.

There’s no problem with the intellectual property law here, the problem is with gullible and ignorant posters who don’t know what they’re talking about and don’t bother to research before the post their “news”.

The infamous Joe says:

Memories, sweet memories.

This reminds me of the time I was flipping through a “textbook” dictionary (that is, the kind a middle school or high school would supply to their students) and decided to check out the legal spiel at the beginning– and sure enough, I wasn’t allowed to recreate the *dictionary*, in whole or in part, without prior permission. In fact, just by writing this comment I’m infringing on what they feel are their rights.

I felt torn between laughing and crying.

Roy says:

1. A number of FBI agents are attorneys (it used to be only law school graduates and accountants could even be an agent).

2. A lien can be registered against a person’s house with minimal official-looking forms. The Freemen and similar groups in the 1980’s and 90’s used to do this to police officers and judges (and others who pissed them off). The person owning the house didn’t even know about it until he went to sell or re-fi the house.

The lien does not automatically ensure that the lienholder will be paid, just that the homeowner can not sell the property without going to court.

Just me COIII says:

pay up

I work in a prison, I don’t know how true this particular story is, but I can tell you that ….. The premise of the original story is true. The reason I came across this thread is that, my work crew inmates were talking about another inmate that threatened to sue a fellow officer for the use of his copyrighted name. We were looking for information specific to copyrighted names.
I dont know if any inmate in this states system has successfully sue’d over copyright name violations, but the push came in the 80’s in the inmate population….. And later lost popularity, most likely through unsucessful attempts to sue…… But there are still a few of those old-timers around, and a lot of newer officers to push around.
Just Me.

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