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View Diary: Whoops! Romney Campaign Violates Copyright Law (Updated) (290 comments)

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  •  Snopes is out of date on this topic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marko the Werelynx

    The Snopes piece was last updated in 2007 but in 2010, Professor Robert Brauneis of GWU Law School researched this claim and disputes the validity of any copyright protections for the song.

    His paper is Copyright and the World's Most Popular Song

    "Happy Birthday to You" is the best-known and most frequently sung song in the world. Many - including Justice Breyer in his dissent in Eldred v. Ashcroft - have portrayed it as an unoriginal work that is hardly worthy of copyright protection, but nonetheless remains under copyright. Yet close historical scrutiny reveals both of those assumptions to be false. The song that became "Happy Birthday to You," originally written with different lyrics as "Good Morning to All," was the product of intense creative labor, undertaken with copyright protection in mind. However, it is almost certainly no longer under copyright, due to a lack of evidence about who wrote the words; defective copyright notice; and a failure to file a proper renewal application.

    "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

    by GrumpyOldGeek on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 04:25:20 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  That's his opinion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GrumpyOldGeek

      and an interesting one. But his opinion of the validity of the claim does not change the legal status of the copyright or the payment of royalties to Sunny-Birchard and the Hill Foundation. He may present a good case but as far as I know nobody has ever presented that case in court.

      Unchallenged, the royalties continue to roll in.

      •  That's true. An unchallenged copyright can work. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marko the Werelynx

        Unfortunately, a challenge costs more than the royalty. So the Hill family gets away with it.

        There are also some obscure rules about pending and intended copyrights, loopholes that the Hill family might raise if their claim is challenged. The fact that they've been receiving royalties is pretty good evidence of intent, but they would probably lose this right because of their failure to renew their copyrights. If they never had copyrights in the first place, they would probably win.

        In other words, registering a copyright is preferred, but just publishing a copyright statement or claiming copyrights is usually enough. But letting a registered copyright expire has the opposite effect.

        "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

        by GrumpyOldGeek on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 03:17:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Despite my dependence on copyright law (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GrumpyOldGeek

          I don't really have a profound understanding of how it all is hashed out in legal terms or, for that matter, actually works in practice. I'm an artist; a scribbler of sorts. Way back in the day I was told by my pesky authority figures that even signing my work is not technically necessary for me to claim any and all rights to my work but that it made the chances of collecting damages in a lawsuit better-- and that the amount of compensation I'd receive for abuse of my rights could be expected to be higher if I signed my work.

          I'd really like to see someone foot the bill to properly challenge the rights to "Happy Birthday" and finally make it part of the public domain. I guess, unless Disney Inc. pushes through another extension for Mickey Mouse, the Hill Foundation (and whoever benefits from that) and Sunny-Birchard might have to actually do something themselves to make a living.

          Just got in from a night of great beer, fine liquor, and delightful company. Off to bed now-- but I wanted to note before retiring (not retroactively, it's just a timezone thing) that for a grumpy, old geek you sure do manage handsomely to carry on a polite and entertaining discussion. Thank you.  

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