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#2102709 - 06/15/13 12:02 AM It's about time - the world vs Warner
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7408
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
If you haven't heard, someone is finally challenging the legality of the copyright on Happy Birthday, someone with deep enough pockets not to be intimidated by Warner's lawyers.

See here.
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#2102748 - 06/15/13 02:55 AM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
I hope they win...
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#2102752 - 06/15/13 03:06 AM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: John v.d.Brook]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5556
Loc: Orange County, CA
The entire copyright claim is bogus if the song is that old.
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#2102754 - 06/15/13 03:18 AM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: John v.d.Brook]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
I'm putting Warner/Chappell on my forever banned list.

And I'm going to sing Happy Birthday at my grand-daughter's upcoming outdoor birthday party ... hope the neighbours don't throw stones at my croke.

PS As a Piano Teacher, I have taught Happy Birthday to all my youthful new students ... but I don't provide the cake!

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#2102823 - 06/15/13 09:06 AM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: Gary D.]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12141
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I hope they win...
+1. The people who wrote this song and their near relatives are long dead now. Let the public have it!
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#2103033 - 06/15/13 07:59 PM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: John v.d.Brook]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3243
Loc: Virginia, USA
It's hard to imagine this hasn't been litigated before. People may be counting chickens before hatching season.
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#2103627 - 06/17/13 01:01 AM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: John v.d.Brook]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
A copyright does not protect or retain the performance rights, although it sounds like people have been unfairly bullied into paying them. I can't wait to see what a judge does with this!
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1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
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#2103786 - 06/17/13 11:08 AM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: laguna_greg]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5366
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
A copyright does not protect or retain the performance rights, although it sounds like people have been unfairly bullied into paying them. I can't wait to see what a judge does with this!
Yes it does!

If one of my works (or my fathers works for that matter, who doesn't compose, but anyhow) are popular and get performed a lot I gain more from the royalties. If not, I gain nothing.

Royalties is the basic system on providing for those composers whose works are popular!

Unless you mean something else.

As far as the "happy birthday song" is concerned Warner can go *ahem* themselves... It's a ridiculous claim and the only reason nobody did anything is because of the size of Warner and the assets they hold in other songs/works. We'll see how this works out...
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#2103810 - 06/17/13 12:12 PM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: Nikolas]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3243
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
As far as the "happy birthday song" is concerned Warner can go *ahem* themselves... It's a ridiculous claim and the only reason nobody did anything is because of the size of Warner and the assets they hold in other songs/works.


But why is it a ridiculous claim?

Because it is so widely known, and the copyright routinely ignored? Bad precedent, I'd say.

Because it's so old? Well, yeah, I'd agree, but apparently copyright law does not.

Most of the "probably not under copyright" comes from Robert Brauneis. His abstract is here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1111624
and if you're interested (I was) you can download the entire 69 page PDF full paper here.

His paper is full of statements like "almost certainly" and "most probably."

But what he says is the strongest argument is that the copyright renewal in 1963 was done for specific arrangements and not the entire song. Okay, if true, that should allow one to arrange and perform (and incidentally copyright) songs based on an earlier version. But it is not at all clear that is what people have done, and anybody who sings or arranges anything based on the copyrighted piano arrangement would be in violation.
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#2103903 - 06/17/13 03:29 PM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4437
Loc: San Jose, CA
Well, if a sixty-nine page gloss is not enough for you...

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Delivery.cfm...624&mirid=1

...additional documents are gathered here:

http://docs.law.gwu.edu/facweb/rbrauneis/happybirthday.htm

Bon appetit.

PS- Too much birthday cake is not good for your teeth or figure. It may seem laughable, but let enough candles accumulate and these things are definitely a fire hazard--- more than plenty, in the case in point, to burn Time Warner's house down (or at least, a wing).

This is not to say that a respect for proper and reasonable protection of intellectual property is a bad thing. Anyone who reads biographies of musicians will see what great troubles have resulted from their lack (Beethoven comes to mind).

PPS.- Still not enough? There's more:

http://docs.law.gwu.edu/facweb/rbrauneis/happybirthdayaddenda.htm

Some--- including some sitting members of the Supreme Court--- will see this brief as storm clouds, gathering in a towering nimbus, whose lightnings will presently smite a parasite and a pest. We shall see--- we've already seen more than I could have believed.


Edited by Jeff Clef (06/17/13 03:47 PM)
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#2103939 - 06/17/13 04:23 PM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: Jeff Clef]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7408
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Well, let's see. Jessica Hill neither wrote the melody nor composed the words, yet through some legal connivance, was able to obtain a copy right. I guess that before Jessica came along, no one wished anyone Happy Birthday. Oh, and the tune which the Hill sisters wrote is similar to, but not identical to Happy Birthday tune. But who cares. I once heard a piece from the 18th century which had the tune of Beautiful Brown Eyes unmistakably clear. I wonder if we scanned Baroque and pre-Baroque music sufficiently, we wouldn't find the melodic sequence of Happy Birthday.
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#2104249 - 06/18/13 08:23 AM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: John v.d.Brook]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3243
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
I wonder if we scanned Baroque and pre-Baroque music sufficiently, we wouldn't find the melodic sequence of Happy Birthday.


Include Renaissance, and I'd guess we've covered ALL modern tunes!
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#2104251 - 06/18/13 08:37 AM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: TimR]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7408
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Proving once again the old wisdom that there's Nothing new under the sun.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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#2104267 - 06/18/13 09:11 AM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: John v.d.Brook]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3243
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Proving once again the old wisdom that there's Nothing new under the sun.


It depends on how much difference is required.

For example, since bagpipes are not tuned equal temperament, is Amazing Grace a copyright violation? (unauthorized rearrangement?)

http://cityofoaks.home.netcom.com/Bagpipe_Tuning.html
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#2104269 - 06/18/13 09:13 AM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: John v.d.Brook]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
Even ASCAP tried to jump on the gravy train, wanting royalties for ringtones which may be overheard by the general public!
http://www.afterdawn.com/news/article.cfm/2009/10/15/judge_throws_out_ascap_s_ringtone_money_grab
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#2104276 - 06/18/13 09:27 AM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: R0B]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2419
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: R0B
Even ASCAP tried to jump on the gravy train, wanting royalties for ringtones which may be overheard by the general public!
http://www.afterdawn.com/news/article.cfm/2009/10/15/judge_throws_out_ascap_s_ringtone_money_grab


That's too sensible a judgement for it to survive the appeal wink
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#2104283 - 06/18/13 09:44 AM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: Andy Platt]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12141
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Andy Platt
Originally Posted By: R0B
Even ASCAP tried to jump on the gravy train, wanting royalties for ringtones which may be overheard by the general public!
http://www.afterdawn.com/news/article.cfm/2009/10/15/judge_throws_out_ascap_s_ringtone_money_grab


That's too sensible a judgement for it to survive the appeal wink
I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, I agree, it's rubbish. On the other hand, where does one draw the line? If someone plays a copyrighted song on the piano and their windows are open and they live in a highly populated area, isn't it likely the music would be heard in "public"? If so, so what? Are they grasping at straws to justify their jobs? Are publishers and composers hurting because of the internet?

I do often wonder how some of the great composers of previous eras would have felt about this. In those days, if a composer copied another composer's idea, it was considered the highest complement. How did that turn into an insult or an offense? Back then there was no thought at all of how the original composer could profit. My guess is because his idea was being heard by more people. Not only that, but what composer wouldn't be curious to see what someone else came up with using his idea?

Of course, there is plagiarizing, where someone takes an entire work (and not an idea or a melody) and sells it under their name. That I feel is wrong, flat-out stealing, and organizations like ASCAP are necessary to protect its members.

So what constitutes stealing, versus just being inspired by someone else's idea and putting their own spin on it? Is it really just a money thing? If someone profits, then it's stealing, whereas if they don't then it's fine?
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#2104648 - 06/18/13 10:19 PM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5366
Loc: Europe
Morodiene you're confusing two entirely different realms: Copyrights and royalties.

ASCAP does NOT deal with copyrights.
copyright.gov deals with that in the US.

ASCAP is trying to grab royalties when music is played in public. Depending on the circumstance this can be great, bad, or ridiculous and all over the world there's ludicrous claims: PRS claimed royalties in a mechanics shop, because they had the radio on. While at first this seems a bit far fetched, apparently the people working there had turned their mechanics shop into a 'hot spot for chicks' more or less with the use of music! Greek AEPI has been claiming royalties from people using their radio, in their 1x1m (literally) tiny shop (periptero), which is as ridiculous as it goes. etc...

Copying someone's work is a violation of copyrights and has little to do with the above, in a legal sense (of course if I claim that "whoops I did it again" is mine, I am to claim all royalties coming from that song!). But in the classical world, quoting other composers is as valid as it's ever been and there's not much problem (because probably there's very few bucks to talk about when talking about classical music anyways). I do recall a friend of mine to who used a theme of Steve Reich and had to pay a license of about 100 US$! That's all!

_______________________________

Now, the ridiculous part of the claim, Tim. It's because apparently the song it self is too old. And too popular. And it's just a money grabbing device, for movies, shows and radio, not much else (since Warner is not going after you and me throwing a party at our sons, daughters and wives)....

________________________________

EDIT: PS. Morodiene

It's not all about money.

If you work on a piano work, in the memory of your mother (for example) and I decide to take it, to use it for fun (no money involved) in a home made... erotika movie (for whatever amazingly awful reasons) that would certainly cross the line!

In general copyright is the right to copy . - Plain and simple. MY song, MY lyrics, MINE to do whatever I want with them. You can't force me to use MY music in a racist campaign, no matter the money!

Of course there are many limits that one needs to cross in order to come to legal action, but... lets not go in there...


Edited by Nikolas (06/18/13 10:22 PM)
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#2104770 - 06/19/13 07:55 AM Re: It's about time - the world vs Warner [Re: Nikolas]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3243
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
In general copyright is the right to copy . - Plain and simple. MY song, MY lyrics, MINE to do whatever I want with them. You can't force me to use MY music in a racist campaign, no matter the money!


And that includes rearranging someone's work. I've talked with people who were very emotionally attached to something they'd written, and were vehemently opposed to it being altered in any manner. It wasn't a money thing at all, it was a creative process element.
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