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Copyrighted to God:

From Karen Marie Handy, a.k.a. Aaliyah Al-Aziz v. United States, 2005 WL 6115381 (Ct. Fed. Cl.), decided May 6, 2005 but — as best I can tell — just posted on Westlaw (paragraph breaks added):

Count I ("Copyright") [of the Complaint] states: "[A]ll materials and written works containing any biblical, historical and religious relevance" and "[a]ny mentioning of my name" are "the sole property and ownership of God .... [and] should have been copyrighted to God." Count II ("Patent") states: "Any patent taken on any goods, services, products with respect to any representation of God, her deity, character, symbol, and any historical person has been blatantly disregarded as to ownership by God only .... [and] should have and be reserved for my approval only."

Count III ("Taking Personal Property") arguably asserts a Fifth Amendment takings claim: "All property contained within the limits of the Earth, its space and such are the sole ownership of God." Counts IV and V ("Miscellaneous Damages") appear to allege further takings claims, violations of the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, and other constitutional violations.

The common denominator in the first three counts, as well as the takings component of Count IV, is that God's rights in various property interests have been injured in some way. Plaintiff lacks standing to bring such claims, however.... It is clear from plaintiff's complaint ... that she does not claim to have suffered an "injury in fact" for herself, but on behalf of a third party--God.

It should be noted that plaintiff attempted to cure this defect. In a document dated April 6, 2005, which the court treated as a response to defendant's motion, plaintiff states: "To make the following statement very clear to you, I am God, Allah, as stated before, I will not tolerate being referenced to as anyone other than that." This mere allegation, however, is insufficient to satisfy standing requirements. Further, weighing any evidence pertaining to the truth of this statement would involve a nonjusticiable matter....

The various other constitutional claims contained in Counts IV and V are also beyond this court's jurisdiction. See United States v. Mitchell, 463 U.S. 206, 218 (1983) (holding that this court's jurisdiction is limited to cases in which the Constitution or a federal statute mandates the payment of money)....

PatHMV (mail) (www):
Sometimes I wonder whether courts allow these cases to continue as long as they do just for the sheer amusement value...
4.18.2008 11:37am
NaG (mail):
Cite? [EV: Sorry, added it.]
4.18.2008 11:40am
Paul Milligan (mail) (www):
She should run for President. The race isn't QUITE enough of a circus the way it is. Maybe that porn star from California who ran for Goverator out there can be her VP.

But I sure am glad to see our tax dollars at work !
4.18.2008 11:44am
The Unbeliever:
So judges can read the minds of the long-dead drafters of the Constitution, but they can't tell us who is God and who is not?

Someone should really enumerate the supernatural powers of the judicial branch.
4.18.2008 11:48am
Bender (mail):
The Sharia or originalist Torah remedy would have been simpler: plaintiff is remanded to custody for stoning within the hour.
4.18.2008 11:53am
Ex parte McCardle:
If I had drafter her complaint, I would have styled it "GOD, by next friend Karen Marie Handy, AKA Aaliyah Al-Aziz"
4.18.2008 12:42pm
Ex parte McCardle:
Sorry: "drafted."
4.18.2008 12:43pm
Arvin (mail) (www):
Maybe she could state a derivative claim . . .
4.18.2008 12:57pm
Falafalafocus (mail):
The cite is: 2005 WL 6115381

I don't practice in copyright law, so I could be off-base, but isn't the court supposed to presume that plaintiff's factual allegations are true under a motion to dismiss?
4.18.2008 1:05pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
Reminded me immediately of
Mayo v. Satan and His Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282 (W.D. Penn. 1971)
. In a suit against Satan for various offenses, including a s1983 claim, motion to proceed in forma pauperis denied. Doubtful personal jurisdiction is discussed.
4.18.2008 1:06pm
PostNoBill:
Falafalafocus,

If the motion to dismiss is premised on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction, then the court need not presume all plaintiff's allegations true. It's a bit of a complex area though.
4.18.2008 1:07pm
Falafalafocus (mail):
Wait, God (a/k/a Karen Marie Handy) made that factual allegation in a response to the motion to dismiss, no the complaint.

Nevermind.
4.18.2008 1:10pm
sbw (mail) (www):
Not a lawyer, but doesn't the plaintiff have to show standing. God isn't the plaintiff and God hasn't shown standing.
4.18.2008 1:11pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
I don't practice in copyright law, so I could be off-base, but isn't the court supposed to presume that plaintiff's factual allegations are true under a motion to dismiss?

There is nothing particular to copyright (or patent) law that needs to be referenced to answer your question. As a matter of Federal Procedure, courts do not presume the truth of factual allegations when motions to dismiss are based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction (or improper venue, or lack of personal jurisdiction, or lack of sufficient service of process). Only on motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim do courts presume the truth of factual allegations. (You can attack subject matter jurisdiction based solely on the allegations of the complaint, and there the Court would presume the truth.)
4.18.2008 1:11pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Another problem is that in order to determine whether the copyright is still in force the court must determine the date of the death of god, which poses Establishment cause problems.
4.18.2008 1:43pm
Bryan C (mail):
If Karen Marie Handy was really smart, she would have encouraged a letter-writing campaign wherein all mail addressed to "God" would be delivered to her in large sacks in the courtroom.
4.18.2008 1:45pm
Stephen C. Carlson (www):
On the merits of the copyright claim, she'd have to worry about Urantia Found. v. Maaherra, 114 F.3d 955 (9th Cir. 1997).
4.18.2008 1:56pm
The General:
Can the government sue her for malicious prosecution or abuse of process? It'd have a good case as there's no way in Hell (though, maybe in Heaven!) that she had a chance to win that suit. Hopefully, they (we!) got their costs.
4.18.2008 2:12pm
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
Laches.
4.18.2008 2:17pm
Jim Rose (mail) (www):
IS this a "next friend" petition?
4.18.2008 2:19pm
Jim Rose (mail) (www):
Also she has to be very careful here--think of all the counter claims for those cases in which FEMA coughed up millions in disaster aid for "acts of God."
4.18.2008 2:30pm
Just Saying:
If Karen Marie Handy was really smart, she would have encouraged a letter-writing campaign wherein all mail addressed to "God" would be delivered to her in large sacks in the courtroom.

.... what?
4.18.2008 2:36pm
ReaderY:
No worries -- if the plaintiff's allegations are correct, plaintiff has other recourse than the federal judiciary.

The judge's handling of the matter (calling it nonjudiciable rather than saying the plaintiff is wrong) seems correct. Plaintiff is hardly the first individual to declare herself a deity.
4.18.2008 3:09pm
PaulK (mail):
"Another problem is that in order to determine whether the copyright is still in force the court must determine the date of the death of god, which poses Establishment cause problems."

But since God is a trinity, couldn't the court rule that He is a corporate author, and thus that his copyright expired seventy-five years from the date of creation, regardless?
4.18.2008 3:13pm
Jimmy S:
Just Saying - Haven't you seen Miracle on 34th Street? (The old version, with Natalie Wood and Maureen O'Hara)
4.18.2008 3:24pm
PersonFromPorlock:
As for Count III, doesn't Genesis 1:26-28 effectively function as a quitclaim?
4.18.2008 3:31pm
Fub:
Bill Poser wrote at 4.18.2008 12:43pm:
Another problem is that in order to determine whether the copyright is still in force the court must determine the date of the death of god, which poses Establishment cause problems.
Nope. The Social Security Death Index lists 23. Go here. Enter "god" as last name. Click the search button.
4.18.2008 4:26pm
Paul Milligan (mail) (www):
"God hasn't shown standing"

And where does God stand ? I mean, where does he place his Godly feet ? And are there jurisdictional issues of a trans-galactic nature ?

This sounds like a good question to open the next ABD Presidential Debate ! It's about as close to meaningful as the ones they used last time ....

"If Karen Marie Handy was really smart, she would have encouraged a letter-writing campaign wherein all mail addressed to "God" would be delivered to her in large sacks in the courtroom."

You've been watching too many Kris Kringle movies.
4.18.2008 4:33pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

But since God is a trinity, couldn't the court rule that He is a corporate author, and thus that his copyright expired seventy-five years from the date of creation, regardless?


I can't wait to see a court take judicial notice of the polytheistic doctrines of trinitarian Christians:) Also, I doubt that the Trinity is a corporation. Do unincorporated partnerships count as corporate authors for purposes of copyright?
4.18.2008 5:00pm
hitnrun (mail) (www):
I think God will do the right thing and settle.
4.18.2008 6:50pm
Displaced Midwesterner:
Someone should really edit a casebook devoted solely to crazy lawsuits like this. A course like that would really have made 3L year more interesting.
4.18.2008 8:06pm
Marla W.:
One of the first stunts of Papa Ratzi was to claim copyrights for all the public words of the previous guy.

That is beside of claiming copyrights on Bible e.g. in Poland. Techicality being that local law does not recognize translator as author.

Sample links:

link one

link two
4.18.2008 9:19pm
neurodoc:
To current and former court clerks: How much of your time is/was devoted to the processing of the truly bizarre, like this one? Do they come along fairly frequently, so that all clerks have experience of them, or only infrequently? They are almost always pro se filings? Handwritten, or those are only the ones filed from prisons, and perhaps mental institutions? How much time does it take to dispose of these matters? Any especially unusual or amusing ones?

I have personal experience of many bizarre medical compensation cases. Those are mostly pure "narrative," though, without all the legal posturing and special weirdness that gives cases like Karen Marie Handy, a.k.a. Aaliyah Al-Aziz v. United States.
4.21.2008 12:35am
FantasiaWHT:
So would an insurance company that provides coverage for "acts of God" have a subrogation rights against the big guy?

Or even better, could they deny coverage based on intentional acts, if they are acts of God?
4.21.2008 1:36pm