Experience has shown Russian mathematician and blogger Mikhail Verbitsky that there's a price to be paid for being flippant about about peiople's beards. This is bad news for Boggart Blogas in the past we have blogged about beards of terror, beards of mass destruction and improvided explosice beards.
"So what's the deal with beards and copyright?" you might well ask. It is a typoical tale of Russian secret police, subversion, sensitivity and whiskers.
Verbitsky was on his way to a mathematics conference in Warsaw last week when he was seized by border guards at Sheremetyevo Airport and hustled into a detention cell. The grim faced guards took his passport and shuttled him from room to room without explanation, until at last one suggested that Verbitsky check the bailiff's website to see whether he was in debt.
Sure enough, there he was — a debtor, convicted in absentia for copyright infringement. As a consequence, he is barred from leaving Russia until he pays 300,000 rubles ($10,000) on charges he'd never heard of.
The charge, Verbitsky later learned, is fr the result of a July 2006 blog post in which he ridiculed an ultranationalist named Igor Pugach using an image and text from Pugach's website.
In the passage, Pugach, who refers to himself alternately as the "commander of the Order of Moscow," "his majesty" and the "prince of Tenkinsky," accused Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho of violating copyrights by wearing a goatee, a style of beard that Pugach claims is his intellectual property and a part of Russia's cultural heritage.
"The website is one of the funniest things I've ever seen on the Internet," Verbitsky said. "Pugach is suing everybody because of a beard. He believes he owns the idea of beards, essentially."
Pugach has accused Russian rock star Andrei Makarevich, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle and scores of others of copyright infringement. Verbitsky, who wears a full beard and not a goatee, said he was probably convicted for using the trademarked image of Pugach's bearded visage without permission, not merely for sporting a beard himself.
A Pugach associate said the wearing of a goateeny beard that could be shaved into a goatee, of even possession of equipment that could be used in the growing of a goatee (i.e. a chin and male hormones) constituted a violation of Pugach's copyright.
"The beard is an element of a trademark," said the man, who refused to identify himself but said he was not Pugach (well he would, wouldn't he?). "Nobody has the right to use it without permission."
He also denied Verbitsky's claim that Pugach, whose name means popgun, had sued scores of celebrities and lost every time.
"Pugach hasn't sued any actors or musicians," he said.
We wonder what the legal definition of a goatee is. I mean, OK Guy Fawkes had one but do those facial hair fashions that involve a small trisngle of hair under the lower lip and make the wearer look like he has a little minge under his mouth count as copyright infringement. And what about teenage boys with a bit of bumfluff on their chin like Shaggy in Scooby Doo?
I'm clean shaven so I don't care but beardies need legal clarification of this now.
The charge against Verbitsky has caused much ROTFLMAO in the blogosphere, where bloggers were quick to point out Pugach's extreme nationalist politics make a mockery of his global crusade to control the goatee with the help of his company, Boroda, or in English, Beard.
Verbitsky however isn't taking it lightly.
"It looks like a joke, but it's absolutely not a joke," he wrote on his blog after he was detained. "I need a lawyer, a professional lawyer."
Your Boggart Blog correspondent thinks Pugarch needs professional help too but not necessarily from a lawyer. Is pognophilia a recognised mental illness.
Read more: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/mathematician-slapped-with-travel-ban-at-request-of-bearded-prince/457074.html#ixzz1vL1KCYLR
The Moscow Times
Beards Of Terror
You Just Can't Be Too Paranoid