Happy Birthday Copyright Bombshell: New Evidence Warner Music Previously Hid Shows Song Is Public Domain

from the well,-look-at-that dept

Last minute evidence that completely turns a legal case on its head doesn’t come about all that often — despite what you see in Hollywood movies and TV shows. The discovery process in a lawsuit generally reveals most of the evidence revealed to everyone pretty early on. And yet… in the high profile lawsuit over the copyright status of the song “Happy Birthday,” the plaintiffs “Good Morning to You Productions” (who are making a documentary about the song and are arguing that the song is in the public domain) have popped up with a last minute filing, saying they have just come across evidence that the song is absolutely in the public domain.

And, here’s the real kicker: they discovered this bit of evidence after two questionable things happened. (1) Warner/Chappell Music (who claims to hold the copyright for the publishing, if it exists) suddenly “found” a bunch of relevant documents that it was supposed to hand over in discovery last year, but didn’t until just a few weeks ago, and (2) a rather important bit of information in one of those new documents was somewhat bizarrely “blurred out.” This led the plaintiffs go searching for the original, and discover that it undermines Warner Music’s arguments, to the point of showing that the company was almost certainly misleading the court. Furthermore, it definitively shows that the work was and is in the public domain.

If you haven’t been following the issue closely, there is actually a lot of evidence, much of it put together by Robert Brauneis, that the song really should be in the public domain. There are all sorts of questions raised about how it became covered by copyright in the first place. Everyone agrees the song was originally written as “Good Morning to All” in the late 1800s, but from there, there’s lots of confusion and speculation as to how it eventually was given a copyright in 1935, granted to the Clayton F. Summy company. People have argued that the 1935 copyright was really just on a particular piano arrangement, but not the melody or lyrics to Happy Birthday To You — which had both been around long before 1935.

Warner/Chappell has long argued that Summy Co never published or allowed anyone else to publish the lyrics to Happy Birthday, but that seems undone by this new evidence. And, again, it seems a bit odd that magically Warner/Chappell suddenly “found” a bunch of new evidence. As Good Morning to You Productions notes:

On July 13, 2015, Defendants gave Plaintiffs access to a database of approximately 500 pages of documents, including approximately 200 pages of documents they claim were ?mistakenly? not produced during discovery, which ended on July 11, 2014, more than one year earlier.

So over a year later, and just weeks before the court was likely to rule on the matter, suddenly Warner finds stuff that was missing before? Okay. But it gets even stranger. Because one of the things in this very late data dump is a 1927 publication of the song Happy Birthday in “The Everyday Song Book.” And, as the plaintiffs in the case note, there’s a line right under the title song that “is blurred almost beyond legibility — curiously it is the only line in the entire PDF that is blurred in that manner.” Hmmm. Here’s the image:

Here’s a closeup of the title and the “blurred line” right beneath the title:
The plaintiffs found this odd and went on a search for the original copy of the Everyday Song Book, finding the edition that was shown in the documents (the 15th edition) as well as a few earlier editions, and a much clearer version:
From there, you can see that the “blurred” line says that the song is published via:

Special permission through courtesy of The Clayton F Summy Co.

As the plaintiff notes, this is evidence that there is no copyright on the song. They also went back and found that this particular edition was not the first one in which the song appeared. Instead, it first appeared in the 4th edition, published in 1922, well before 1935. The key issue: the lack of a copyright notice. Today that wouldn’t matter. But under the 1909 Copyright Act it matters quite a bit.

Under Section 9 of the 1909 Copyright Act, ?any person entitled thereto by this Act may secure copyright for his work by publication thereof with the notice of copyright required by this Act? affixed to all copies of the work…. At a minimum, Section 18 of the 1909 Copyright Act required the notice to include the word ?Copyright,? the abbreviation ?Copr., ? or the ?©? symbol as well as the year of first publication and the name of the author of the copyrighted work…. If the strict notice requirements of the 1909 Copyright Act were not met, the ?published work was interjected irrevocably into the public domain.? Twin Books Corp. v. Walt Disney Co., 83 F.3d 1162, 1165 (9th Cir. 1996) (emphasis added). None of these notice requirements was met for the Good Morning and Birthday Song included in the fourth edition of The Everyday Song Book published in 1922.

In other words, it appears that the song was put into the public domain by 1922 at the latest. The plaintiffs argue that the lack of a copyright notice on the work shows that Patty Hill (who wrote the song) likely put the work into the public domain years earlier:

Publication of the Good Morning and Birthday Song in The Everyday Song Book in 1922 and thereafter, with Summy?s authorization but without a copyright notice, is fully consistent with Plaintiffs? position that the Happy Birthday lyrics had been dedicated to the public many years before then. Because the lyrics were in the public domain, there was no reason for a copyright notice to be set forth in the song book. Moreover, the authorized publication of the Good Morning and Birthday Song in 1922 without a copyright notice also is fully consistent with Plaintiffs? position that the 1935 copyrights (E51988 and E51990) covered only the specific piano arrangements written by Summy?s employees Orem and Forman (as well as the second verse written by Forman). Since the lyrics were already in the public domain long before 1935, there was nothing else to be copyrighted other than the new work that Summy?s employees contributed when those copyrights were registered.

The filing also notes that while the copyright on the compilation for the 1922 and 1927 publications could only cover the overall compilation, rather than the individual works, even so both copyrights have long since expired, so Warner/Chappell can’t even claim that the copyrights for either compilation now lead to the copyright today.

In other words, there’s pretty damning conclusive evidence that “Happy Birthday” is in the public domain and the Clayton Summy company knew it. Even worse, this shows that Warner/Chappel has long had in its possession evidence that the song was at least published in 1927 contrary to the company’s own claims in court and elsewhere that the song was first published in 1935. We’ll even leave aside the odd “blurring” of the songbook, which could just be a weird visual artifact. This latest finding at least calls into question how honest Warner/Chappel has been for decades in arguing that everyone needs to pay the company to license “Happy Birthday” even as the song was almost certainly in the public domain.

It’s been reported for years that the company brings in somewhere around $2 million per year off of the song — and it’s looking like none of that money should have been paid.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: warner/chappel

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Happy Birthday Copyright Bombshell: New Evidence Warner Music Previously Hid Shows Song Is Public Domain”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

A sign that the system is broken? Yes. A petty dispute? I don’t call the fact that a private company is hoarding rights to a song that should have been in the public domain decades ago to the tune of $2 million/year petty. If the song is public domain, they are making huge levels of income based on a lie.

A waste of taxpayer money? Again, I don’t see how returning the public’s property to its rightful owners under the original contract is a waste, especially if this results in a wider discussion of how broken and one-sided the copyright system is. Especially if as a result of this, Warner are found to have been misleading enough to be forced to return its ill-gotten gains and other companies are forced to return public domain properties to their rightful owners. OK, that’s unlikely, but I can dream.

It’s a silly dispute in that it should never have been allowed to come to this, but since we’re here it’s a good fight to have.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’d say it is still a waste because we shouldn’t even have to discuss it (and that’s my line of thought initially but it seems people misunderstood it). It is a good fight absolutely given the current scenario but ultimately a waste because copyrights could have been fixed before we started seeing such petty disputes (and don’t misunderstand me, the petty part is Warner here).

I fully agree with you and even though you misunderstood me the reply was awesome. (Obviously you lack mind reading powers to understand what I intended to transmit with my comments. Hah.)

Anonymous Howard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

the petty part is Warner here

It definitely looks like pettiness, but I can only imagine that at Warner they think (rightly I hope) if they lose, they might create a dangerous precedent.

Just like Disney holding onto their stupid PRECIOUSSSSS mouse.

So yes, this is what is really at stake, and I can only hope that they fail miserably.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Well, there’s that. But, if Warner win this lawsuit, it’s apparently worth $2 million/year to them, until the work enters the public domain under current rules (which if these guys have their way will be never).

It seems a silly thing to fight over, but effectively unlimited free income is hardly “petty” even if the thing that generates it is stupid.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“I’d say it is still a waste because we shouldn’t even have to discuss it”

OK, I’ll agree with that. But, the reality of the situation means that this issue exists. We can’t rewrite history to avoid it, so the choice is to accept it or fight – and I don’t think the fight is wasteful. Especially if this spurs other action that makes this less necessary in the future.

I don’t disagree with your central point, but reality is what it is.

“copyrights could have been fixed before we started seeing such petty disputes (and don’t misunderstand me, the petty part is Warner here)”

Actually, Warner aren’t being petty, they’re fighting to retain millions per year in free money. Money which, by the way, will help them break copyright even further to ensure that more fights like this are necessary in the future. If someone were to give me $2 million/year in free money, I wouldn’t consider it petty to fight to retain it.

Again, it would have been nice if copyright wasn’t screwed to this point, but since it is we need to support the fight.

Mitch says:

Re: Re:

No, it’s not a petty dispute. People have had to pay royalties for the use of “Happy Birthday” for many years ($2 million per year for decades). If these documents are legit, then there’s no copyright, the song is in the public domain, and Warner can be forced to repay tens of millions of dollars taken through fraud.

And how is this is a waste of taxpayers’ money? We may be seeing a major clarification and correction in copyright law.

Just sayin' says:

Re: "...petty dispute..."

First of all…this is a civil suit brought about by or for one party claiming the other cannot claim rights to the song WHICH THEY HAVE BEEN CLAIMING IS THEIRS falsely for quite some time FOR PROFIT (otherwise known as stealing)…that party happens to be one of the five huge multi nat corporations controling world wide print, radio, film, television and in some cases internet entertainment content…let me say that again for emphasis
Far from being petty this case is directly linked to the so called “Net Neutrality” case and artists rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yes. No taxpayer money is going into this suit, and it means that a company which has beentrying for years to charge people for the right to sing “Happy Birthday” (and is, incidentally, the reason every restaurant chain in the US has a different song they sing during the ritual humiliation they are require to subjest themselves to every time some idiot says “birthday”) has been lying the whole time.

Steve Hill says:

Re: Happy Birthday Song

Yes, I think you are one of the few who thinks this is a petty dispute. You probably wouldn’t think it is petty if you paid twenty-thousand dollars to Warner/Chappell for the rights to use Happy Birthday in your production.

Company’s don’t cheat and commit fraud… people do. If every son-of-a-bitch who ripped off people with their false claims was locked up (or better yet, shot dead) there would be no need for litigation. Problem is, most people like you think it is okay to flim-flam the other guy.

So yeah, I think you are as shallow as your petty dispute comment.

Steve Hill

Joe Wojo says:

Re: Must be nice to be so rich that $2 million a year is petty.

REally Ninja “It’s been reported for years that the company brings in somewhere around $2 million per year off of the song — and it’s looking like none of that money should have been paid.” this a petty dispute??? Why dont you go back to your yacht club and think about this some more

Scooter says:

Re: Re:

1) This is about real money. Probably 10s of millions of dollars overall. The last year alone licensing fees were $2 million.

2) This is a lawsuit between private parties. They can choose to spend however they want. In this case they feel it is worth it. The feds don’t have any interest in this fight.

3) And yes this is representative that the system is broken. Companies like Disney keep requesting the copyright expiration extensions. They are attempting to keep their works under perpetual copyright in violation of the constitution. Sadly they way they are doing it has been deemed valid by the SCOTUS (don’t have case to site just from memory).

ReasonableDoubt says:

Re: Re:

No, you may not be the only one who thinks this, but anyone who agrees with you completely misunderstands the purpose of American jurisprudence.

I would be interested in hearing 1) how much taxpayer money you think is actually being spent litigating this private case, and 2) how you would prefer that money be spent.

Vidiot (profile) says:

This matters

There’s real significance to this suit, and to this disclosure. The “Happy Birthday” travesty was held up as a poster child for abusive copyright in college film and video classes as long ago as the mid 70’s (sadly, I was there).

And I recall staging an event in the 80’s where, in order to honor those born that month, we invited a live pianist (no synchronization rights!) to play the old folk tune “Good Morning Dear Teacher”… and the audience was encouraged to sing whatever popped into their heads.

It’s true that since then, a single, celebrated case has transitioned, whack-a-mole style, into a mass of abuses at all levels; but seeing that landmark toppled gives us hope that a more rational approach to IP may one day prevail.

Yet Another Anonymous Coward says:

Re: This matters

Good post, Vidiot, but a more rational approach to IP? Let’s stop calling it “property” because it’s not property, it’s a temporary monopoly for the advancement of science and the arts and stuff.

The most rational approach we can ever take is to call these frauds out on their lies and insist they use the proper words and meanings to describe cultural items instead of encouraging us to use their words and to frame the arguments in their terms.

Let’s take the fight to them: it’s NOT property.

AJ says:

“It’s been reported for years that the company brings in somewhere around $2 million per year off of the song — and it’s looking like none of that money should have been paid.”

Do the people that did pay get their money back? I hope they line up around the block to sue these guys. Turnabout is fair play.

David says:

Re: Re:

No. In corporate America, running with a fraud rather than suing means that your money is gone. You had your chance to engage the courts and chose to pay instead.

It’s like claiming you were robbed when you did not even wait for the robber to discharge his gun into your leg. Or claiming you were raped without having any broken bones to show.

In a similar vein, claiming you were defrauded when you cannot show a $100000 attorney bill is clearly disingenuous: apparently you were perfectly in the mood of giving money to the gr… needy. And now you are getting second thoughts? Shame on you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Did you miss this bit:

giving money to the gr… needy.

Note the deliberately unfinished word as if a speaker had caught themselves about to speak the truth.

And since when have sarc marks been a requirement for sarcasm? Some things are so blindingly obvious that even Poe’s Law is no excuse for their misinterpretation.

Arnold says:

Re: Re: Re:

“It’s like claiming you were robbed when you did not even wait for the robber to discharge his gun into your leg. Or claiming you were raped without having any broken bones to show.”

Very silly examples. If someone points their gun at you you don’t have to wait to be shot to claim robbery.

And class-action lawsuits for this type of thing are done all the time. If it can be proven that they knew they didn’t have copyrights, additional punitive damages can be awarded as well.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Not only should people get their money back.

But with interest.

With punitive damages.

And there should be prosecution for outright fraud.

Would a big corporation with a war chest and legal muscle be able* to go around extorting payments for a license to breathe their air? After all, they have a building that uses fans to blow filtered air into the public environment.

* nevermind, I already know the answer: of course they could, in the US.

zippy says:

Re: Re: Re:

I agree. They would definitely do that. And they would also put it in cans, call it Perri-Air (packaged in Druidia), and sell it for even more profit. Also, their president’s luggage combination would probably be 12345. And this is what he and his cohorts would say while watching the profit figures add up as the company reels it in from the sheeple:

“Suck, suck, suck!”

Anonymous Coward says:

I,D be more worried under tpp and other trade agreements other countrys will be forced to
extend copyrights on all songs and books to 70 years after the authors death.
and reduce the public domain further and these countrys do not have the fair use laws the usa has .
Still it shows there,s probably 100,s of songs that should be in the public domain ,
if someone was to go and find the documents necessary to show this .

aethercowboy (profile) says:


I’m surprised it took this long. A simple Google Books search yielded a few pre-1923 examples of this song.

E.g., https://books.google.com/books?id=VngxAQAAMAAJ&q=%22happy+birthday+to+you%22&dq=%22happy+birthday+to+you%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDkQ6AEwBDgKahUKEwieuOSb8P3GAhXB1IAKHXfKDT4 (1922)

and https://books.google.com/books?id=TfoaAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA63&dq=%22happy+birthday+to+you+happy%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAGoVChMI9OXzgfH9xgIVyJiACh3AiAig#v=onepage&q=%22happy%20birthday%20to%20you%20happy%22&f=false (1911)

Can I get a cut of the legal fees? I think I spent about 2 minutes looking that up.

CFWhitman says:

Re: Re: Surprised

Actually, I believe the lyrics are the key factor because it’s well know that the music was in the public domain before that.

That is, it’s been Warner’s position that though the music is in the public domain, the changed lyrics for “Happy Birthday” were never released to the public domain.

The newly introduced evidence in the case shows that the lyrics were printed with permission from the alleged copyright holder without a copyright notice in 1922, and have therefore been public domain since at least that time.

The examples from aethercowboy don’t prove this because they could be printed without permission from the copyright holder (there is no evidence of permission in the publications). However, these references do seem to prove that these lyrics were common knowledge early enough that any copyright on them would have expired by now in any case. Legally, though, Warner’s previous claim was probably that non-publication by the author of the lyrics before 1935 means that all previous publications were not legitimate releases of the material. This claim really challenges the limits of credibility.

The whole case really seems rather ridiculous considering how simple the lyrics are, mostly just repeating a common phrase.

Anonymous Coward says:

So can Warner & Chappell be sued for fraud then?

So if Happy Birthday hasn’t been copyrighted for decades, can Warner and Chappell be sued/prosecuted for fraud by all the people who they took money from for ‘royalties’?

$2 million dollars a year over possibly nearly a century is a pretty darn significant amount of money that was defrauded.

While some of that I’m sure is long past the statute of limitations tens of millions more is definitely not.

Lisa Westveld (profile) says:

So? Now what? Will they have to pay it all back now? To whom would they have to pay it all back anyways?
I think they’ll just pay a big fine and be done with it. The CEO and other directors should just end up in jail in my opinion and this company should be forced to close its doors because of this fraudulent actions but it probably just ends with a large, tax-deductible fine. Big deal…

Anonymous Coward says:

when the entertainment industries have governments on their side, doing absolutely ANYTHING they possibly can to help them, it is going to still be an extremely uphill task, but surely there’s enough evidence to show what a bunch of lying, cheating, blood-sucking, despicable assholes these industries are? surely they know that there is no trick that wont be pulled to let them carry on doing what they have been doing for decades, CHEATING EVERYONE ON THE FUCKING PLANET! perhaps then something sensible will be done to curb their tactics!!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

an emergency motion to retroactively extend all copyrights to infinity minus exactly one day.

Remember, it can’t be infinity, that would violate the ‘limited time’ language of copyright law, and they still like to pretend that as long as it isn’t literally set to last an infinite duration, that it still meets the ‘limited time’ limit.

DannyB (profile) says:

Is it just another Anomaly?

Just wondering.

All the rest of the copyrights keeping stuff from the public domain are all okay, right?

Such a vast number of anomalies countering the goodness of copyright. What is an ‘anomaly’ again?

(When a rocket blows up in flight, that is called an anomaly. Maybe that should be what happens to copyright when there is a copyright anomaly?)

DannyB (profile) says:

What I notice right under that "Special Permission" line

Is the key signature. Then the notes.

Geez, a song intended for everyone to sing, yet with a vocal range of a full octave. The highest note being Eb more than an octave above middle C!

Wow. Shouldn’t the court also give punitive damages for that?

They could transpose it down three semitones and make the vocal range more accessible to more people (Key F). (Or even five semitones, Key Eb.)

If people sing it in a different key, is that copyright infringement?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What I notice right under that "Special Permission" line

Geez, a song intended for everyone to sing, yet with a vocal range of a full octave. The highest note being Eb more than an octave above middle C!

It’s a kindergarten song from the beginning of the 19th century. The only post-puberty males expected in attendance would be underachievers and child molesters. Or the principal. But I repeat myself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Now the croud sourcing mob needs to detail what lawyers did the hidiing

We don’t know the details. We’re talking about hundreds of pages of 90 year old documents… this isn’t exactly stuff they keep on a first floor filing cabinet. It could well be unintentional, and they DID turn it over. And even if it was intentional, we don’t know that it was a lawyer that was doing the hiding, as opposed to someone else. Do you think the lawyers personally rummage around their client’s old filing cabinets to search for relevant documents?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Now the croud sourcing mob needs to detail what lawyers did the hidiing

We don’t know the details.

And we do not need to know. That is the purpose of the bar association – to investigate.

Lawyers are a self-regulating profession. If they can’t be bothered to regulate themselves, then the terms of the regulation need to change.

The 1st step on that journey is to prove they can not regulate themselves.

Mitch says:

Re: Re: Lawyers rummaging around client's old filing cabinets

As a young lawyer, I was once sent to “personally rummage around in our client’s old filing cabinets to search for relevant documents,” because our client was too lazy and/or inept to do it himself. I was on the cold floor in an unheated warehouse at LaGuardia Airport digging through files, trying to find documents to support our case. After a couple of hours, I said “to hell with this” and flew back to DC almost empty-handed. In retrospect, was our client hiding something? Probably.

I’d certainly believe that Warner hid documents that could hurt their income, but lawyers generally don’t know what’s in documents which their clients haven’t handed over to them.

nasch (profile) says:

High court

On July 13, 2015, Defendants gave Plaintiffs access to a database of approximately 500 pages of documents, including approximately 200 pages of documents they claim were “mistakenly” not produced during discovery, which ended on July 11, 2014, more than one year earlier.

I’m guessing they’ll tell the court “oops” and that will be that. I wonder what happens to an ordinary citizen for withholding crucial evidence in a trial.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: High court

I wonder what happens to an ordinary citizen for withholding crucial evidence in a trial.


In Wisconsin Waukesha 2012SC400 had not only evidence withheld but contrary evidence presented. It went in front of a Judge who used to be in the DA’s office 3 weeks previous.

No perjury charges, no disbarments, nothing.

Keep in mind the tradition of doing nothing is well founded. From 1995 The Lies have it features Milwaukee County DA E. Micheal McCann “[o]utside of income tax evasion, perjury is … probably the most underprosecuted crime in America … You can walk into court, take the oath, lie up a storm, and not have to worry about being punished for it.”

DB (profile) says:

I’ve read the income finally transmitted to the Warner subsidiary was $2M. The gross income was approximately $10M/year. Precise numbers e.g. from detailed accounting from ASCAP isn’t available.

There is no way for the general public to be made whole from this fraud. The subsidiary likely has little cash on hand and can be trivially put into bankruptcy if needed. Even if there were a way to claw back the recent net income, the middlemen have taken the bulk of the revenue.

The corporate strategy here is clear: they knew the claimed copyright wasn’t valid, but at $10M/year (or even $2M/year) it was well worth the legal cost to keep the clock running. And they kept it running until the claimed copyright was essentially expired.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“This is about getting payment to the artist. As long as the artist got 1 million or so, I am OK with all this.”

The artist gets nothing, because they were long dead even before copyright was extended to cover works as old as the claimed copyright date. Even if they weren’t, the copyright is owned by Warner, so they wouldn’t even get all the money, only whatever tiny fraction of it they were owed as royalty payments (and, often, not even that).

The only people getting money are Warner and their shareholders. Hence the problem with the work being withheld from the public domain, where it was agreed to have passed to by this point in time when the work was written.

GEMont (profile) says:

And Justice Pre-Fails Once Again

And if the courts find that Warner did willfully defraud both the public and the courts, what will be the penalty?

Bupkiss, diddly, zilch, squat, nadda, and of course, the obligatory “slap on the wrist” fine, which the courts will keep, that totals about 1% of the amount that Warner stole through its phony licensing scam.

Wanna bet.

Espryon (profile) says:

I’m part of a local tech group and we actually host a small time podcast and we used songs from the Library of Congress and Archive.org and are currently engaged in copyright pingpong. I and my co-host discussed our opinion of copyright, trademarks, patents, etc. I argue though that copyright is counterintuitive to human culture. We couldn’t believe that Youtube and Soundcloud allows the censorship of public domain intros irregardless of whether you’re a non-profit educational group or are attempting to use the fair-use statute. Link below. I was apprehensive and so was my life long friend Josh in starting this non-profit tech group but, the challenges of putting this stuff online is immense when you have such extreme copyright enforcement online.


Andrew Homzy says:

Public Domain - © fraudsters are rampant -

Publishers used to be family businesses – Witmark, Harms, Stark, Handy, Robbins, Feist, Mills, Fischer – now they are multi-nationals which which bought-up the holding corporations which bought-up the family businesses.

When a piece of music went out of © the publishers continued to collect royalties. Who would stop them? Furthermore, when © was 26 years and renewable for another 26, errors were made and many famous pieces were not re-newed. The publishers continued to collect royalties. Who would stop them?

There are many lobbyists, lawyers and accountants working for the “publishers”. Who is working on behalf of the Public Domain?

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...