This week in library news, I will attempt to make the topic of copyright infringement entertaining. Honestly, I think I have a pretty good chance of success despite your obvious doubts. For example, did you know that technically facts cannot be copyrighted? It’s a fact, and a fact is not your intellectual property to stamp a claim on. But down that path lies a very in-depth conversation that I don’t have the column inches for (and really works better when I can hear your questions). So, how do encyclopedias and the like circumvent this fact of copyright or catch those who infringe on the work they compiled?
This is where I reveal the Secret of the Mountweazel. But what is a Mountweazel, you ask? It sounds like it could be some kind of rodent that is found solely in the mountains, right? It is not. It is actually the surname of Lillian Virginia Mountweazel, fountain designer and photographer, from Bangs, Ohio who met her tragic end in an explosion while on assignment for Combustibles magazine. Seems plausible, though it isn’t actually touching on the copyright topic I said I was focusing on. Some of my readers may have picked up from a few clues in Ms. Mountweazel’s history (“Bangs”, Ohio; death by explosion; Combustibles magazine) that this story is suspect, and you would be spot on. Lillian Virginia Mountweazel is a fictional entry planted in The New Columbia Encyclopedia, fourth ed. (1975). Her entry served as an excellent way to find those attempting to pass off copies of this encyclopedia as their own work, since they wouldn’t know that she is fictional.
And so the term “Mountweazel” came to be. A Mountweazel refers to any fictional entry in a reference source (dictionary, encyclopedia, etc.) Perhaps you’ve heard of Paper Towns? Or read John Green’s book? Paper Towns, also called Phantom Settlements or Cartographer’s Follies, function in much the same way as Mountweazels; they are fictional places or towns that mapmakers added as a sort of signature and to prevent copyright infringements on the works they created. Ghost words are also added to dictionaries on occasion. The most recent, and most publicized, that I can think of today is “esquivalience”. Seems legit, right? The definition, provided in the New Oxford American Dictionary, is: “the willful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities”. Personally, I would love to legitimize this word but it is a bit of tongue-twister when spoken aloud.
I hope that I have managed to entertain on a topic not typically associated with fun. Keep an eye out for those elusive Mountweazels, spread the word, and remember: always check your sources. The library is here to help.
Tues., Oct. 9 @ 11:00a.m. – Book Club: The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin, ages 18 and up
Thur., Oct. 4 @ 4:00p.m. – Kids Kreate: STEAM Activities, ages 6-8
Bossier Central 746-1693
Tues., Oct. 2 @ 6:00p.m. – Tech Talks: Hoopla & Flipster, ages 18 and up
Thur., Oct. 4 @ 5:00p.m. – You Deserve More (Domestic Violence Awareness), ages 18 and up
East 80 949-2665
CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS – Thank you again for bearing with us, we hope you’re pleased with the end results!
Sun., Oct. 7 @ 2:00p.m. – Family Fun Science, all ages
History Center 746-7717
Tues., Oct. 2 @ 6:00p.m. – Book Talk & Signing: The Caddos and Their Ancestors by Jeff Girard, all ages
Plain Dealing 326-4233
Tues., Oct. 2 @ 1:00p.m. – Music & Movement, ages 0-5
Sat., Oct. 6 @ 1:00p.m. – Family Movie Day: Halloween Tree, all ages