If you want to copyright your Elvis sighting...
July 30, 2019 2:27 PM   Subscribe

...the federal government has official advice for you. The United States Copyright Office, a division of The Library of Congress, evidently gets so many inquiries about "protecting" Elvis sightings that the subject warrants its own entry on its FAQ page. Not sure what this says about America or Americans, except both are weird, yo.
posted by BadgerDoctor (16 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Presumably the same logic applies to Bigfoot, aliens, and the rare Big Alien Elvis Foot sighting.
posted by BeeDo at 2:38 PM on July 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


No one can lawfully use your photo of your sighting...

Except I'm pretty sure they're in the clear if they post it online and include the phrase "not mine no copywrite intended".
posted by The Tensor at 3:25 PM on July 30, 2019 [7 favorites]


Weird that the Elvis section is the only one which addresses the attempted copyright holder as a gendered identity, matching Elvis’s for maximal weirdness, when the other sections seem to gracefully avoid the Universal He/Him/His.
posted by zinful at 3:26 PM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


These people vote, y’all.
posted by darkstar at 3:37 PM on July 30, 2019 [5 favorites]


Surprisingly (or maybe not), the content of that page hasn't changed in at least 15 years (WaybackMachine link).
posted by Sibrax at 4:29 PM on July 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


Every once in awhile, the copyright office published a compendium, which is essentially a really long, very formal FAQ. It is full of just fascinating things that someone must have asked at least once.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:26 PM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


I really like the "some company named a star after me and got copyright protection so it's mine now right?" I felt like I do at the end of a good heist film where I understand how the plan came together.
posted by mark k at 7:45 PM on July 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


I will see your Elvis sighting, copyrighted or not, and raise it with Petula Clark's "Elvis invited me and Karen Carpenter for a threesome".
posted by rongorongo at 3:13 AM on July 31, 2019 [2 favorites]


One of my favorite principles is "When there's a rule against something, it's because people keep trying it."
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:51 AM on July 31, 2019 [2 favorites]


According to Model-UN-dork legend, one of the competitions my high school Model UN team went to had a "don't put the piano in the elevator" rule, and the suggestive vagueness and hilarious specificity of it have haunted me ever since.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:53 AM on July 31, 2019 [3 favorites]


I have had to do research at the Library and Archives Canada, and they have a set of rules about photographing large documents that clearly evolved over time. The first is about not putting tripods on top of documents to photograph them. Then there's one about not putting documents on the chairs or floor to photograph them. Then there's one about not standing on the tables to photograph them.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:04 AM on July 31, 2019 [2 favorites]


I don't get it. What does that even mean to copyright your sighting of Elvis? I mean if you got a picture of him, sure, as they indeed clearly explain. But what do people imagine they are copyrighting about an experience they had? You can't have also seen Elvis getting a chili dog at the Jefferson County 4-H Carnival? How would that work exactly?

I read that three times and was still really confused. © Naberius, 2019, all rights reserved
posted by Naberius at 6:10 AM on July 31, 2019 [3 favorites]


It used to be part of my job to answer questions from the public about copyright and I can tell you that the things the public doesn't understand about copyright are many and varied. Copyright, trademark, patent, and rights of publicity / life rights stuff all get mixed together in people's minds.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:13 AM on July 31, 2019 [2 favorites]


I believe this is in response to the habit that tabloid papers had (have?) of paying for stories. People think that the National Enquirer is all made up, but in fact they do have reporting, of a kind. If you read carefully there is a ton of "claimed" and "apparent" and other disclaimers that bring the story back into the realm of news, barely. It was before my time but you did regularly see accounts of Elvis sightings, alien abductions, etc., for which the author could have been compensated. The tabloid didn't care if the grainy picture was actually your Uncle Frank as long as it might have been genuine.
posted by wnissen at 2:09 PM on July 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


Copyright, trademark, patent, and rights of publicity / life rights stuff all get mixed together in people's minds.
If the Elvis sighting is explicitly invented, perhaps it ought to be patentable as a business method? (Defending against prior art claims may be a challenge.)
posted by eotvos at 2:41 PM on July 31, 2019


I mean, no, but also, stupider things have been patented so maybe yes?
posted by jacquilynne at 6:26 PM on July 31, 2019


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