The Happy Birthday song hasn't been in copyright for generations, and everybody knew it. That didn't stop Warner Chapell music from running a scam where they extorted "royalties" from movies and restaurants that featured the song, charging less than it would cost anyone to litigate the question.
Until, that is, a documentary about the song decided to fight the question in court.
U.S. District Judge George H. King ruled Tuesday that the copyright originally filed by the Clayton F. Summy Co. in 1935 granted only the rights to specific arrangements of the tune and not the actual song itself.
In invalidating the copyright, King ruled that Summy never acquired the rights to the song's lyrics.
Federal judge rules 'Happy Birthday' song in public domain
(Image: 53/365 - 02/22/11 - Happy Birthday, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from shardayyy's photostream)
Every three years, the US Copyright Office asks America about the problems with Section 1201 of the DMCA, which bans breaking DRM even for legal reasons, and America gets to answer with requests for exemptions to this rule.
Back in March, the House passed the Music Modernization Act, a welcome bill made it easier for musicians to get paid reliably for digital streaming.
Wonderful EFF supporters keep on coming up with great new entries for EFF's Catalog of Missing Devices, which lists fictional devices that should exist, but don't, because to achieve their legal, legitimate goals, the manufacturer would have to break some Digital Rights Management and risk retaliation under Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. […]
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