Thursday, March 29, 2007

Amusing Moments in IP

Being a companion piece to Isaac's recent postings; in the process of doing some historical IP research, I discover this gem:

The Black Crook is a mere spectacle -- in the language of the craft a spectacular piece. The dialogue is very scant and meaningless, and appears to be a mere accessory to the action of the piece -- a sort of verbal machinery tackedon to a succession of ballet and tableaux. The principal part and attraction of the spectacle seems to be the exhibition of women in novel dress or no dress, and in attractice attitudes or action. The closing scene is called Paradise, and as witness Hamilton expresses it, consists mainly "of women lying about loose" -- a sort of Mohammedan paradise, I suppose, with imitation grottos and unmaidenly houris. To call such spectacle a "dramatic composition" is an abuse of the language, and an insult to the genius of English drama. A menagerie of wil beasts, or an exhibition of model artistes might as justly be called a dramatic composition. Like those, this is a spectacle, and although it may be an attractive or gorgeous one, it is nothing more. In my judgment, an exhibition of women "lying about loose" or otherwise, is not a dramatic composition, and, therefore, not entitiled to the protection of the copyright act. On this ground . . . an injunction is denied.
Martinetti v. Maguire, 16 F. Cas. 920, 922 (C.C. Cal. 1867) (Deady, J.) (refusing to enjoin a San Francisco theatre's production of "The Black Rook"); but cf. copyrights registered to Sheila Kelley (search Copyright Office for "Kelley, Sheila" in the author field).

FYI, OED defines a "houri" as "a nymph of the Muslim Paradise. Hence applied allusively to a voluptuously beautiful woman." I suppose maidenly implied some moral quality then?

Further, "grotto" in this instance is likely "a cave or cavern, esp. one which is picturesque, or which forms an agreeable retreat." So... not an underwater cave where shellfish live in this instance.

Meanwhile, Judge Matthew Paul Deady was, oddly enough, a judge on the Oregon District Court who left practicing law in Maryland in 1849... so basically, when you play "Oregon Trail," you're playing Judge Deady.

I figure between outlandish copyright infringement, anachronistic religious slurs in the federal reporter, Oregon Trail, and the OED, I've hopefully brightened your workaday spring break. Now, back to my paper...


Blogger Isaac Zaur said...

Awesome. On a (sort of) related note, never forget the availability of a motion under Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(f) to strike "impertinent or scandalous material."

3/29/2007 10:37 AM  

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