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I’M REMINDED OF the practice of including a fake entry to detect unauthorized use of copyrighted material. A recent example appears in the Interesting Facts website, November 25, 2021: “Google Maps Listed an Imaginary Town.” Here are tidbits about such faux fun gleaned from this article and my usual Internet sleuthing.
Argleton, West Lancashire, England. “There’s off the map,” Interesting Facts writes, “and then there’s Argleton. This English town was visible on Google Maps until 2009, which is notable for one major reason: No such place exists.”
Interesting Facts notes that such an entry is known as “a trap street—a fictitious road used by cartographers to catch anyone copying their work.”
A nearby settlement is identified as Aughton, at the intersection of Aughton Road and Aughton Brow. Only this one is apparently real: Les Pattinson and Will Sergeant, both of Echo & the Bunnymen, have Aughton connections.
Our Google Maps Dating. Wife Dottie’s fabled 1971 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe offered a means of dating the frequency of Google’s updated street and aerial mapping.
Built between 1967 and 1975, the Sport Coupe had brio a’plenty, with a double-overhead-cam four-cylinder engine, a properly raspy exhaust note, five-speed gearbox, disc brakes all around, nimble handling, and even room for four people or two plus a St. Bernard.
Anyway, the Fiat resided in our driveway long after it served transportational or recreational requirements. Indeed, it became something of a planter for wild flowers. Until, that is, the city suggested that it be garaged, tossed, or else. It ended up with a fellow for whom its various bits elated Fiat restorers up and down the West Coast.
However, Google immortalized the car, at least temporarily, as viewed from the street and from above. We came to know Google views of our house as Pre- or Post-Fiat.
Faux Folks. My favorite fake personage is Lillian Virginia Mountweazel, as described in the New Columbia Encyclopedia, 1975 edition:
“Mountweazel, Lillian Virginia, 1942-1973, American photographer, b. Bangs, Ohio. Turning from fountain design to photography in 1963, Mountweazel produced her celebrated portraits of the South Sierra Miwok in 1964. She was awarded government grants to make a series of photo-essays of unusual subject matter, including New York City buses, the cemeteries of Paris and rural American mailboxes. The last group was exhibited extensively abroad and published as Flags Up! (1972). Mountweazel died at 31 in an explosion while on assignment for Combustibles magazine.”
Ms. Mountweazel’s faux existence was to mitigate scamming New Columbia Encyclopedia data. However, modern judicial scholarship suggests fat lot of good it did.
Supreme Court Ruling, 1991. Wikipedia notes, “Fictitious entries may be used to demonstrate copying, but to prove legal infringement, the material must also be shown to be eligible for copyright.”
Wikipedia cites Feist v. Rural,1991, wherein the Supreme Court ruled that “information alone without a minimum of original creativity cannot be protected by copyright.” Because of this and similar rulings, very few copyright cases have been proven and many are dismissed.
Nonetheless, faux people and places continue to make for interesting reading. Do you think that even SimanaitisSays has included some? ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2021