Thursday, December 20, 2012

We All Are Copyright Infringement Criminals!

Oh yes, it is true!  I have to admit that I suspect even myself am in danger of prosecution and a large fine for just such heinous infraction.  Truthfully I did not and was not aware that my actions were a felony, and since ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse.  Now that I have been informed, I must admit that I have witnessed equally felonious behavior myself.

What has me so spooked you may wonder?  Well in a note from the FreeMusic Archive: Time Warner will charge you ten grand in fines if you infringe on their copyright and use \ perform their product in a public forum.  

That is what has me worried for I myself have  used   this product in public.  Matter of fact, several time alone in 2012.

And what is this product that Time Warner is so willing to sue you if you use it?  It is a simple six note song with words that TW says they will defend their copyright with all due diligence.

You see, Time Warner owns " Happy Birthday"

I have now decided that yes indeed, the world has gone insane.


kallamis said...

"I have now decided that yes indeed, the world has gone insane."
That's what I've been saying for years.
And this has to be a joke. It's illegal for them to copyright that. Or, at least it used to be. Oh well, I gave up on the species long ago anyway.

Dave Tackett said...

This is one of the more infamous examples of copyright abuse out there. Unfortunately, this is a case of money buying laws.

The melody from the 1893 song is public domain now.

Shortly after 1983, the lyrics
"Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear xxxx
Happy Birthday to you."
were attached to the melody by an unknown lyricist (Much like "What child is this?" was attached to the music of Greensleeves)

I have a scan of a book "The elementary worker and his work" printed in 1911 instructing teachers to use this song/lyrics combination in their classrooms (on page 63). Evidence suggests this began much earlier.

The Summy Company was granted copyright in 1935 for the music/lyrics combination that had been in existence for at least 24 years. [The big change is that they Vanilla-Iced the song by officially making the first note two notes - it was implicit in earlier written works. And as part of the lyrics (those listed above) are demonstrably plagiarized, it's validity is somewhat shaky.

And according to Paul Collins at "What's more, none of the six copyrighted versions are exactly right: The one that includes both the familiar melody and lyrics also slaps on a second verse that nobody ever uses. When it came time to renew the song's copyright in 1962, Clayton Summy Co. forgot to include this one most crucial version. And that, Brauneis says, is a problem.

'It is almost certainly no longer under copyright,' he concludes in his study, 'due to a lack of evidence about who wrote the words; defective copyright notice; and a failure to file a proper renewal application.'"

Even with all this, the song would still be public domain if it weren't for the arguably unconstitutional Mickey Mouse Protection Act.

While the Supreme Court did wrongly uphold this paid for law, dissenting Justice Breyer argued that it was unconstitutional because "the constitution grants Congress power to extend copyright terms in order to 'promote the progress of science and useful arts,' CTEA granted precedent to continually renew copyright terms making them virtually perpetual."

Unfortunately there are many, many other ridiculous cases of lawsuit and trademark abuse. This is why I strongly support a simple and fair fifty year (or less) limit on copyrights, trademarks, and patents.

Beam Me Up said...


That should be a addendum to the article. I mean, I tried to play it as straight as I could, but I knew that for the most part it was bat crap nonsense for the most part. Oh there always is a core of truth but this was to far out. You really should post your not to the end of the article. I thought it was great!

Dave Tackett said...

Thanks Paul, though the fact that their copyright is on very shaky grounds doesn't mean that they wouldn't win a court case.

On the side of sanity though, I just read at New scientist that another ridiculous Apple patent is being revoked and more are under review.

Beam Me Up said...

Dave, now you must tell us exactly which ones are being revoked!!! Oh this sounds like fun!!

Dave Tackett said...

The whole article is here and quite interesting.

But this is the most important paragraph:

"A USPTO notice in October had already revoked Apple's patent covering "rubber-banding", the onscreen bounce-back effect that iOS touchscreens display when a page is scrolled beyond its edge. And this week it has done likewise with the patent that covered the sensing of simultaneous touches that allow for touch-typing and pinch-to-zoom functionality."