Thursday, September 28, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, September 28, 2023 | Back issues
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The Value of Stuff

Elvis Presley may or may not still be alive, but his legacy definitely lives on.

And there's a good chance of cloning.

The heirs of some Elvis fans have been fighting in court since 2009 over the proceeds of an auction of Elvis stuff - I don't think "memorabilia" is quite the right word - and the 8th Circuit last week issued a fascinating ruling.

The case is Estate of Pepper v. Whitehead and I won't spoil it for you - but my favorite part is the interesting list of Elvis stuff sold. It includes "a large quantity of Elvis's hair" that brought $15,000 and "a set of Elvis's concert-used handkerchiefs" that went for $600.

No one's paying that much for snot without coveting valuable DNA. And all that hair could spawn a clone army.

Think "Star Wars" with an all-suede Empire battalion.

It's an exciting prospect.

By the way, there's also a probably unintended tip in the ruling for those of you with ambitions of amassing celebrity swag: "Nancy, a devoted fan of Elvis, had moved to Memphis from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1974 and spent evenings at Graceland's front gate."

Stalking can indeed pay off if you're really dedicated.

Just the fax. I have an item for your collection of First World problems. This is from an 11th Circuit ruling last week called Palm Beach Golf Center-Boca, Inc. v. John G. Sarris, D.D.S.:

"We find that Palm Beach Golf has Article III standing sufficient to satisfy the injury requirement because it has suffered a concrete and personalized injury in the form of the occupation of its fax machine for the period of time required for the electronic transmission of the data (which, in this case, was one minute)."

Time is indeed money.

In case you're wondering, this dispute engendered a 29-page ruling and a partial dissent - and the case is being sent back down to the trial court.

I love this stuff.

Are we spoiled? Here's an interesting philosophical question: how much is a free service worth?

Are we entitled to damages if a free service is taken away from us? Or if someone starts charging for what used to be free?

Before you answer too quickly, consider the wiles of drug dealers. They (at least I've heard) can hook you with free highs and then demand a fortune once you're addicted.

Is Tinder all that different?

Yeah, it probably is, but that hasn't stopped a lawsuit from being filed in Federal Court in Los Angeles against Tinder, Inc. for having the audacity to start charging fees.

(By the way, I know absolutely nothing about Tinder but I've heard it's a smartphone app that helps you find new close friends.)

Said the suit: "In a classic bait and switch, Tinder utilized years of clever marketing, and advertised free social networking and online dating services to consumers, enticing them to become entrenched and 'addicted' to the Tinder app's system, only to unexpectedly take away the very services its customers relied on ..."

The victimized plaintiff then "reluctantly" purchased a one-month subscription for $2.99.

An addict will do anything to get a fix. This is how family fortunes are destroyed.

The quote from the lawsuit, by the way, in case you're not convinced, comes with a footnote to the term "addicted" referring us to proof in a 2013 Huffington Post item with the headline "Why Tinder Has Us Addicted: The Dating App Gives You Mind-Reading Powers."

You'll believe you can do anything when you're high.

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