Wednesday, June 29, 2016

‘Happy Birthday’ Lawyers Target Other Song Copyrights; Bloomberg Law, 6/28/16

Anandashankar Mazumdar, Bloomberg Law; ‘Happy Birthday’ Lawyers Target Other Song Copyrights:
"In April, they filed a complaint over “We Shall Overcome,” the protest song synonymous with the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.
” `We Shall Overcome’ is a profoundly important song,” Rifkin said. ” `Happy Birthday’ is possibly the world’s most famous song, but `We Shall Overcome’ is possibly the world’s most important song. It has a moving appeal to an awful lot of people, and it is a very important piece of music, and we think it’s important that it be given back to the public.”
On June 14, the lawyers filed another complaint, this time over “This Land Is Your Land,” the folk song associated with Depression-era troubadour and political activist Woody Guthrie, who wrote the lyrics to an existing melody. Guthrie’s copyright on the lyrics expired in 1973, the complaint said..."
Restoring Balance to the Copyright Act
As they take on similar cases, Rifkin said he considers the challenge of dubious copyright claims an important part of the copyright system. He and Newman, he said, are trying to hit the balance referred to by Justice Elena Kagan in an opinion in a Supreme Court case involving legal fees in copyright cases.
The purpose of the Copyright Act—”enriching the general public through access to creative works”— is served by “striking a balance between two subsidiary aims: encouraging and rewarding authors’ creations while also enabling others to build on that work,” Kagan said."

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