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)
Redbox buys DVDs and then rents them through automated kiosks, including DVDs from Disney that come with download codes to watch the videos through a DRM player.
Every three years, the US Copyright Office creates temporary exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's ban on breaking DRM, provided that people can show that they've been prevented from doing something customary and legitimate with their own property.
In Did Congress Really Expect Us to Whittle Our Own Personal Jailbreaking Tools? -- a new post on EFF's Deeplinks blog -- I describe the bizarre, unfair and increasingly salient US Copyright Office DMCA exemptions process, which is underway right now.
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