State Legislator / Convicted Felon Ted Klaudt Tries to “Copyright His Name”

The AP reports:

A former South Dakota lawmaker convicted of raping his two foster daughters has sent news organizations what he claims is a copyright notice that seeks to prevent the use of his name without his consent.

A letter and an accompanying document labeled “Common Law Copyright Notice” said former state Rep. Ted Alvin Klaudt is reserving a common-law copyright of a trade name or trademark for his name. It said no one can use his name without his consent, and anyone who does would owe him $500,000. [The letter said anyone seeking to use Klaudt’s name would have to file a written request 20 days in advance…. [Sentence moved. -EV]]

Klaudt was convicted in 2007 on four counts of second-degree rape for touching his teenage foster daughters’ breasts and genitals in phony examinations he said could help them sell their eggs to infertile couples. He was sentenced to 44 years in prison for rape and 10 more years after pleading guilty to two counts of witness tampering….

That’s legally wrong on so many levels: Short words and phrases can’t be protected by federal copyright law; common law copyright has been almost entirely preempted by federal copyright law, and in any event was applicable only to unpublished works; copyright of any sort would only apply to your own creative work, and Ted Klaudt’s name wasn’t created by him (unless it’s an assumed name); fair use would in any event allow people to use the name to refer to him, if there was a copyright claim to begin with, which there isn’t; and trademark law doesn’t preclude uses of a trademark in an article to refer to the trademarked item.

Thanks to How Appealing for the pointer.

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