Mardi Gras Costumes: Apparel or Art?

Law professors have much to say about copyrighting Mardi Gras Costumes.  Case on point, Ashlye Keaton, adjunct law professor at Tulane University, is working with Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indians to help preserve intellectual rights to their costumes. In light of the fact that costumes are not copyrightable, Keaton is defining them as art.

Carnival New Orleans News reported that “Intellectual property law dating back to the nation’s founding dictates that apparel and costumes cannot be copyrighted, but Tulane University adjunct law professor Ashlye Keaton has found a way around that by classifying them as something else- as works of art.

The first test for the Indians who have copyrighted the new costumes they will wear this year will come at Mardi Gras. The Indians revamp or completely remake their suits every year, and the copyright takes effect at the first public showing. . .
Once the costumes are copyrighted, which can be done online for $40, the Indians can either sue people who sell photos of them or try to negotiate licensing fees with photographers either before or after the pictures are taken.”

Hours of work and hundreds of dollars go into the making of these vibrant costumes and the artist are hoping to share a part of the revenue through licensing.

Source of the image: Creole Wild West.

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