“The reason so many Americans own guitars today is thanks, in large part, to past trade agreements” [Vincent Caruso, Reason]
As I went walking I saw a sign there.
And on the sign it said “(C) — Guthrie estate”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.
“Following their successful actions to bring the songs ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘We Shall Overcome’ into the public domain, New York law firm Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz are now taking on a similar action for the Woody Guthrie classic, ‘This Land Is Your Land.'” [IP Flow/Mimesis Law]
Back in 2004, when the successors in interest of Guthrie’s heirs threatened the writers of a politically oriented parody with copyright litigation, Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation wondered what Guthrie himself would have thought of the action, given that he once used a copyright notice that said:
This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.
The lyrics of “My Land,” including the “No Trespassing” verse lightly altered above, are here, complete with copyright assertion.
In the aftermath of Prince’s death, lawyers representing the entertainer’s estate administrator have been pushing a posthumous right of publicity law in Minnesota. The proposed PRINCE Act (“Personal Rights In Names Can Endure”) would forbid the use of an individual’s name “in any medium in any manner” without consent, which critics say makes it a rare instance of a law that actually violates itself. [David Post/Volokh, Jacob Gershman/WSJ Law Blog]
As the most successful band in history, the Beatles generated not only a record number of music hits but probably more legal disputes than any other music group before or since. As the first international rock band brand in a still nascent music business – and guided by a neophyte personal manager – the Beatles became entangled in a distracting series of legal problems nearly from the start of their career.
— ABA Journal runs an excerpt from “Baby You’re a Rich Man: Suing the Beatles for Fun and Profit,” a new book by Stan Soocher.
“‘We Shall Overcome,’ a song that was the ‘unofficial anthem to the civil rights movement,’ was wrongly placed under copyright and should be put in the public domain, according to a lawsuit filed today in federal court. The complaint was filed by the same group of lawyers who succeeded at putting the world’s most famous song, Happy Birthday, into the public domain after years of litigation.” [Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica; earlier on “Happy Birthday”]
“Great news for those of you who have been paying royalties every time you sing ‘Happy Birthday’ – assuming the judge approves a proposed settlement, he will declare that the song is in the public domain, making it free for everyone.” Warner will make some refunds for royalties paid, and plaintiff’s lawyers will ask for $4.62 million — “an awful lot of money for freeing ‘Happy Birthday.'” [Lowering the Bar; earlier here, etc.]
- As an experienced lawyer Hillary Clinton surely knows better than to say the things she’s saying about gun lawsuits. [Charles Cooke, thanks for citing my work]
- While we’re at it, Ms. Clinton, there is so much wrong with your contemplated business exit tax [Ira Stoll, New York Sun]
- Metallica vs. cover band cease/desist spat gets patched up quickly [Rockfeed, followup]
- Alas, RICO suits harassing Colorado legal-pot business appear to be prospering [Jacob Sullum/Reason, my Cato take]
- Judge tosses $21.5 million award in that colorful Holland America case we’ve covered [Seattle Times, earlier]
- Labor-rights case from Colombia causing further difficulty for Terry Collingsworth, attorney known for Alien Tort suits [Daniel Fisher, earlier]
- “Harvard Law Review Freaks Out, Sends Christmas Eve Threat Level Over Public Domain Citation Guide” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
- “At least for the moment, Defendants have shaken off this lawsuit” — court dismisses handwritten challenge to originality of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” [Lowering the Bar]
- After nastygram from George Orwell estate, seller withdraws t-shirts bearing slogan “1984 is already here” [The Guardian] But see comment below from reader Gitarcarver (episode attributed more to CafePress over-reaction than to estate’s letter);
- “Anne Frank’s Diary Now Has Co-Author, Extended Copyright” [Christopher Klein, History.com]
- “What the history of Eskimo Pies tells us about software patents today” [Charles Duan, Slate]
- University of California, Santa Barbara, has put online a gold mine of 10,000 early recordings from the cylinder era, which ended in the 1920s [Hyperallergic] But could there be a copyright snag even on material this old? [Brian Frye, Prawfsblawg]
- Judge says company must pay $684K for pursuing “exceptionally weak” patent case [Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica]
- More: “That Irell & Manella would let itself get played by PETA for a stupid publicity stunt that serves no purpose other than to waste the court’s time…” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt; earlier on monkey-selfie case]