One radio advertisement I heard over and over again during the holidays was for International Star Registry, a company that offers the ability to “name a star after someone” for a low fee of $54.00. In addition to having the star’s new name “registered at the US Copyright office,” you get a certificate, a star chart, and a map of your star circled in red. However, you cannot get a star named after you and claim copyright to it.
Names are not protected by copyright law. Publishers of publications such as a star registry copyright the text of a book containing the names the registry has assigned to stars but the registration does not extend protection to any of the individual star names appearing therein and does not confer any official or governmental status on any of the star names included.
The International Star Registry admits in its own fine print that “star naming is not recognized by the scientific community” and that “your star’s name is reserved in International Star Registry records only.” So for Valentine’s Day, don’t buy your loved one a star, your hard-earned money is better spent on a nice steak dinner or some flowers.
Founded in 1979, ISR has sold over 1 million of their full-color “Name A Star” parchment certificates. Since there are nearly one trillion stars in our galaxy alone, selling name is like a license to print money. For additional reading see http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html