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.





Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 4:05am

    Am I the only one that thinks this is a petty dispute, a waste of taxpayers money and a sign that the goddamn system is broken beyond repair?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Matthew, 28 Jul 2015 @ 5:45am

      Re:

      Yes, you are. The fact that the system is broken doesn't mean that we don't go after corporate thugs who have been defrauding and stealing to the tune of $2 million/year.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rich, 28 Jul 2015 @ 5:47am

      Re:

      How are taxpayers paying for this?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        fashenz, 12 Aug 2015 @ 6:58am

        Re: Re:

        Who do you think pays the judges, baliff, court stenographers saleries??? The taxpayers thats who. Not to mention the courthouse and all of its expenses. We the taxpayers foot that bill

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:03am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Ninja (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:43am

        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.)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Anonymous Howard (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:56am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 7:32am

            Re: Re: Re: 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.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Ninja (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 9:55am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Right, right? It's sad when such a petty fight is at the same time so important as a precedent and to 'vindicate' the public for what Warner stole. Sadly they will get at most a slap on the wrists considering how much they already made off the public domain.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 12:02am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Sadly they will get at most a slap on the wrists considering how much they already made off the public domain."

              Yet, if someone was copying files of that song, they'd happily demand 10 years income from them without a hint of awareness of their hypocrisy.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 7:27am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Craig Welch (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 8:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          We don't have to discuss it.

          Stop discussing it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Richard (profile), 30 Jul 2015 @ 3:17am

        Re: Re:

        . 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.

        Especially when it is the most lucrative musical copyright in history.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Donald Campbell, 28 Jul 2015 @ 10:50am

      Re:

      What amazes me is it is a 'petty dispute' over an idea that was created 100 years ago. Isn't it time to admit that whatever 'benefits' owed to the originator have fallen by the wayside?
      On the other hand, if you consider $2M/year to be 'petty', you run in a much bigger league than me .

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Verb, 28 Jul 2015 @ 11:02am

      Re:

      What taxpayer's money? This is two private companies involved in a civil suit. The loser will get assessed the court costs.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Paul Ling, 28 Jul 2015 @ 12:29pm

      Re:

      Yes, you are.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 2:19pm

      Re:

      Nope....thanks for the chuckle though mr Warner bros shill
      monkey.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Yep, 28 Jul 2015 @ 3:25pm

      Re:

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Mitch, 28 Jul 2015 @ 11:24pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      L. Christopher Bird, 29 Jul 2015 @ 1:12am

      Re:

      You probably are not the only one that holds, that opinion, no. However you and those that share it are wrong.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      nfer, 29 Jul 2015 @ 6:02am

      Re:

      How would a civil lawsuit where the court costs are paid by private parties be a waste of taxpayer money?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Eli, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:09am

      Re: you ARE the only one

      People have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to use this public domain song in tv and movies over the years. People who haven't paid have been sued for using it.
      This is a great use of courts, and I hope the company committing this copyright fraud is sued out of existence.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Just sayin', 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:48am

      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
      FIVE CORPORATIONS CONTROL ALL WORLD WIDE PRINT RADIO FILM TELEVISION and INTERNET ENTERTAINMENT CONTENT AND/OR ACCESS TO SAME.
      Far from being petty this case is directly linked to the so called "Net Neutrality" case and artists rights.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      J.D., 29 Jul 2015 @ 10:32am

      Re: Ninja (post 1)

      It's not a waste of taxpayer dollars at all, since courts (with respect to civil suits) and the copyright office are funded by way of fees paid by the persons filing with those institutions.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Tripjack, 29 Jul 2015 @ 5:12pm

      Re:

      Yes, you are the only one. This is a massive headache being removed for the Music, TV and Film industries.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 6:31pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Robert, 30 Jul 2015 @ 1:01am

      Re:

      Fraudulent claim of copyright along with decades of profits from that fraudulent claims makes it a hugely interesting issue. So how much will they owe, along with interest and penalties.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 8:55am

      Re:

      $2 million a year is not petty.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Steve Hill, 30 Jul 2015 @ 9:12am

      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

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Joe Wojo, 30 Jul 2015 @ 11:12pm

      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

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Cassius, 31 Jul 2015 @ 2:01am

      Re:

      yes you are!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      phoenix, 31 Jul 2015 @ 5:56pm

      Re:

      What taxpayer dollars?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Chris, 1 Aug 2015 @ 7:35am

      Re:

      Taxpayer's money? The court costs are borne by the litigants.

      Do you consider $2,000,000 per year petty? If so, please send it to me.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Scooter, 1 Aug 2015 @ 8:19am

      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).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ReasonableDoubt, 2 Aug 2015 @ 4:52pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jeff, 4 Aug 2015 @ 3:39am

      Re:

      You realize that this has nothing to do with the government, right?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Martin B, 4 Aug 2015 @ 4:28pm

      Re:petty dispute

      Charging people for something already in the public domain from 1935 until 2030, at a rate that is now generating over $2 million a year is not what I would consider "petty".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Vidiot (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 5:15am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 10:23am

      Re: This matters

      That sounds familiar... back in 72 or 73, our family (the kids at least) started using the lyrics,

      Happy Birthday to you
      You live in a zoo
      You look like a gorilla
      And you smell like one too

      :)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        G Thompson (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 12:52am

        Re: Re: This matters

        We still use that :)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 4:27am

        Re: Re: This matters

        Another version of similar age is:

        Happy Birthday to you
        Squashed tomatoes and stew
        You look like a monkey
        And smell like one too

        The second line is rather a non-seqiteur, but the third line fits the tune better.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Yet Another Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 5:26am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      JohnB, 1 Aug 2015 @ 8:21am

      Re: This matters

      Thank you for the background!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 5:15am

    The only satisfaction I get from this ridiculous case is picturing Reese Witherspoon having that "gotcha" moment before addressing the defendant.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AJ, 28 Jul 2015 @ 5:38am

    "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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:35am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Sheogorath (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:55am

        Re: Re:

        Or claiming you were raped without having any broken bones to show.
        So even if someone has semen dripping from their torn orifice(s), they still can't file rape charges unless they also have a fractured clavicle? That's what I thought. Idiot.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Anonymous Howard (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:59am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Irony is not a country of Irons.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Sheogorath (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 8:02am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Denial is not a river in Egypt, either. Or did you miss the lack of a sarc mark on David's comment?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              David, 28 Jul 2015 @ 8:28am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I'd call that argument a bit of a stretch even without explicit stretch marks.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 9:04am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Anonymous Howard (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 1:00am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Or did you miss the lack of a sarc mark on David's comment?

              This kind of bullshit is why you have "Not chewing gum" labels on C4 and "Do not masturbate with it" on chainsaws.

              Play dumb for the argument's sake if you like it, but then don't expect us to treat you as a smart guy.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          San Adalberto, 28 Jul 2015 @ 8:01am

          Re: Rape

          I think you missed the subtle irony that poster injected into his comments to highlight the ludicrousness of 'justice' in this case.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          PsyMar, 28 Jul 2015 @ 2:23pm

          Re: Re: Re: Rape

          Pretty much, actually. If they don't have a fractured clavicle then "obviously" they consented. Or so the legal system thinks.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Arnold, 28 Jul 2015 @ 10:29am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 10:09pm

        Re: Re:

        No shame on people who paid them, they were fraudulently led into believing there was a copyright holder. A Class Action suit could be made for all claims within the statute of limitations.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Baron von Robber, 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:54am

      Re:

      I would hope that Warner/Chappel pays back what they charged, plus inflation, with a $150,000 penalty per incident of copyright violation.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Sheogorath (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:58am

        Re: Re:

        I would hope that Warner/Chappel pays back what they charged, plus inflation, with a $150,000 penalty per incident of copyright abuse.
        FTFY, Baron.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Baron von Robber, 28 Jul 2015 @ 7:31am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Thank you, Sheogorath.

          But I do like 'violation'. Has a nice sting to it for the copyright maximalists.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Sheogorath (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 8:14am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Hmm, you're right. Okay, here's my second attempt: I would hope that Warner/Chappel pays back what they charged, plus inflation, with a $150,000 penalty per incident of Public Domain violation.
            There, that fixes it and uses the maximalists' favourite word against them. :D

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 7:57am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        zippy, 28 Jul 2015 @ 9:59am

        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!"

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scott Mercer (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 7:36pm

      Re:

      A class action suit is in order, and the plaintiffs would be huge corporations like NBC/Comcast/Universal, CBS, Paramount, Sony, etc. I think they all have their own on-staff attorneys to squeeze some cash from Warner/Chappell.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 5:40am

    Mike Masnick just hates it when copyright law is enforced.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 5:51am

    But but but copyrights are forever, corporations need to control them all!!!
    I hope the court crucifies them.
    The magically missed documents, the single blurred line that destroys their case...
    Yep totally innocent mistakes to protect an income stream.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 5:59am

    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 .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 10:36am

      Re:

      I'm more worried that if TPP goes through, the US will claim to need to remove Fair Use to match other countries. After all, other countries would be able to make ISDS claims against the US over "IP" used without license in the US under Fair Use depriving them of income.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    vegetaman (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:02am

    Finally, a smack against copyright maximalists. Can't wait to hear them try to explain this one away and how they still "own the rights" and they were shaking people down for payments in good faith...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:26am

      Re: Surprised

      Those are just the lyrics. It's the sheet music that matters here mostly.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:38am

        Re: Re: Surprised

        Uh no? The music is known to have been published as "Good morning to all" quite earlier. The copyright claims were for the lyrics in connection with the melody. Nobody plays that particular old arrangement anyway.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scott Mercer (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 7:41pm

        Re: Re: Surprised

        Yeah, wrong. The music was published in 1896 so is without any doubt in the public domain. The Happy Birthday lyrics were the basis of the 1935 copyright claim, as it turns out, disingenuously.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        CFWhitman, 30 Jul 2015 @ 8:31am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Aug 2015 @ 6:34am

      Re: Surprised

      And why would a book from 1911 be only available as "snippet view" from google? Bloody copyfraudsters.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:18am

    Someone got a very nice birthday present this year. Happy Birthday Public Domain!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:26am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:37am

    Public Domain

    Every year we see the stats of how many things have entered the public domain and it's recently been zero. This year it will be funny to see one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Lisa Westveld (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:43am

    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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:48am

    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!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:53am

    Finally no more stupid hand clap birthday song knockoffs sung by out of key waitstaff with sparklers on a scoop of ice cream.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      kallethen, 28 Jul 2015 @ 7:37am

      Re:

      Finally no more stupid hand clap birthday song knockoffs sung by out of key waitstaff with sparklers on a scoop of ice cream.

      Instead we'll have the original Happy Birthday sung by out of key waitstaff with sparklers on a scoop of ice cream. A small improvement...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 7:54am

      Re:

      Unfortunately, since this will get zero coverage in the MSM, every restaurant owner that has ever been threatened will continue to believe it is a legal risk.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jameshogg (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:55am

    "I would like to present to the House an emergency motion to retroactively extend all copyrights to infinity. On behalf of groups such as "Warananer Majestic" I invite you all to support the motion."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scott Mercer (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 7:44pm

      Re:

      Thank you Senator Palpatine.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 9:41pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 7:02am

    I've sung it before and I'll sing it again

    This song's Public Domain
    This song's Public Domain
    So it's free, WMG
    'Cos it's Public Domain
    Go fuck yourselves! ;D

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 7:17am

    No prosecution for this fraud, of course.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scott Mercer (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 7:46pm

      Re:

      Civil lawsuits are possible, even a class action. And guess who's been paying them all these years? OTHER huge entertainment conglomerates! They all have plenty of lawyers on the payroll. There may be an out-of-court settlement, but either way Warner-CHappell is toast.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeff Green (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 7:24am

    Warner Brothers are thieves,
    Warner Brothers are thieves,
    Warner Brothers are lying bastards
    Warner Brothers are thieves!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 8:07am

      Re:

      Please put these lyrics into the public domain. :-)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Sheogorath (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 8:19am

        Re: Re:

        I'm not going to dedicate my version to the Public Domain (don't think I can under European law), but it's freely licensed for all purposes except large scale distribution. That allows anyone to use it whilst preventing big business capitalising on it. :)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          DannyB (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 11:02am

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's pretty vague. Maybe you should just pick an already existing Creative Commons license which allows non-commercial use.

          "large scale" distribution is a slippery definition. And lawyers, MBAs, and especially the MPAA/RIAA are slippery with definitions.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Jeff Green (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 8:58am

        Re: Re:

        I hereby make my version freely available to any and everyone who wishes to use or abuse it. As with the original it is far too trivial to merit any copyright protection!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 2:26pm

          Re: Re: Re: free-license

          The MIT license is pretty good for doing this. Says "This is in the public domain, unless you live in a country where public domain isn't a thing, in which case you are hereby licensed to do whatever you want with it." Only written more lawyerly.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 8:01am

    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?)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 8:07am

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 8:36am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PsyMar, 28 Jul 2015 @ 2:27pm

      Re: Key signature

      So, uh, what's the highest note in "The Star-Spangled Banner" again? I think that's got a range of an octave and a half.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 2:45pm

        Re: Re: Key signature

        So, uh, what's the highest note in "The Star-Spangled Banner" again? I think that's got a range of an octave and a half.

        That is not an easy song for exactly that reason.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 8:24am

    *insert Blurred Lines joke here*

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 8:29am

    When a rocket blows up in flight, that is called an anomaly.
    What's it called when a Virgin rocket blows up in flight? 0_0

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    alternatives(), 28 Jul 2015 @ 8:45am

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

    and when so they can be bar grieved for that action.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 9:22am

      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?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 9:51am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 1:43pm

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

          "Lawyers are a self-regulating profession."

          And a fine job they do of it, too.

          /sarc

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 12:13pm

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

        "Do you think the lawyers personally rummage around their client's old filing cabinets to search for relevant documents?"
        Yes. They do.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Mitch, 28 Jul 2015 @ 11:37pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 7:12am

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

          After a couple of hours, I said "to hell with this" and flew back to DC almost empty-handed.

          Not feeling better about the legal profession after reading this.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        KaaSerpent, 1 Aug 2015 @ 7:35am

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

        "Do you think the lawyers personally rummage around in their client's old filing cabinets to search for relevant documents?"

        Of course not. That's what interns are for.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 8:46am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 9:04am

      Re: High court

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

      Nothing.

      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."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Landamen, 28 Jul 2015 @ 9:16am

    Kind of ironic that the first verse of Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke kind of explains what is going on here:

    "If you can't hear what I'm trying to say
    If you can't read from the same page
    Maybe I'm going deaf
    Maybe I'm going blind
    Maybe I'm out of my mind"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    RadioactiveSmurf (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 11:02am

    *old man in a rocking chair* That's right kids. Back in my day restaurants all had some craaazy ways of singing to you on your birthday. It was too costly to sing Happy Birthday.


    http://www.btrtoday.com/btrtoday/read/articles/friday-birthday-week

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DB (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 11:07am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 11:19am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 11:58am

        Re: Re:

        This is about getting payment to the artist.

        "This" being the lawsuit? No, the artists are dead and this lawsuit has nothing to do with them.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 11:42pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 1:34pm

    Abolish Copyright

    It's immoral and insane.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Chris, 1 Aug 2015 @ 7:42am

      Re: Abolish Copyright

      Abolish Copyright
      It's immoral and insane.


      Okay, so we'll just fire all the programmers and entertainment people. Even the open-source developers generally also have a paid job where the work on things protected by copyright...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2015 @ 9:12am

        Re: Re: Abolish Copyright

        A surprisingly large number of them are paid to work on open-source software by companies like Red-Hat, IBM, etc. There are other companies that employ people to work on open-source software that they sell support for, like Docker.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2015 @ 9:15am

          Re: Re: Re: Abolish Copyright

          It is also worth noting that the vast majority of programmers work on software where neither the source code, or the software, is released outside of the organisation that created it. In this case it is never published, and so copyright is not a consideration.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 1 Aug 2015 @ 10:45am

        Re: Re: Abolish Copyright

        Okay, so we'll just fire all the programmers and entertainment people.

        If you're asserting that those jobs are only possible with copyright, that's false.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 2:48pm

    Another reason to disrespect copyright.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 3:17pm

    And the list of works that have gone in 2015 ...

    1) Happy Birthday

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 3:18pm

    And the list of works that have become public domain in 2015 ...

    1) Happy Birthday

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 5:46pm

    antidirt's not going to like this at all, not one bit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 11:53am

    Warner's lawyers have now filed back and they argue that the 1922 songbook with "Happy Birthday" in it was an "unauthorized" as in pirate copy. http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/07/warner-lawyers-1922-songbook-with-happy-birthday-lyrics-w asnt-authorized/?comments=1

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Oldmuttonhead, 29 Jul 2015 @ 12:08pm

    Phone

    I heard today that Warner/Chappell destroyed their cell phones to get rid of the evidence of the song being in the public domain. At least I think that's what it was..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    GEMont, 29 Jul 2015 @ 1:21pm

    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.

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    WhyIsDaddyAngry, 30 Jul 2015 @ 5:55am

    Still to be determined...

    No confirmation yet on the impact this will have on the insertion of "cha cha cha" after each verse by obnoxious 6 year olds.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Espryon (profile), 31 Jul 2015 @ 9:34pm

    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.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvIYDcWaFrM

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Alfonso Capone, 1 Aug 2015 @ 8:33pm

    RACKETEERING, LYING TO THE COURTNIN A FEDERAL CASE, DESTROYING EVIDENCE...

    MMMM....LOOKS LIKE NICE JUICY FEDERAL RACKETEERING CHARGES GETTING CLOSER AND CLOSER....AND A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT, OF COURSE...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      GEMont, 2 Aug 2015 @ 11:41am

      Re: RACKETEERING, LYING TO THE COURTNIN A FEDERAL CASE, DESTROYING EVIDENCE...

      "MMMM....LOOKS LIKE NICE JUICY FEDERAL RACKETEERING CHARGES GETTING CLOSER AND CLOSER....AND A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT, OF COURSE..."

      Dreamer.
      Hope you're not holding your breathe in anticipation. :)

      ---

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Andrew Homzy, 23 Sep 2015 @ 12:22pm

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.