I talk about things I find interesting. I find a lot of things interesting…

Happy Birthday to all of us

by Ken Arnold on Thu 8 October 2015

Copyright law is far too grasping. In theory it assumes that people need to feel they will get paid for the work through 90 or so years after they die to make it worth their while to create it. In reality this is all keyed on Mickey Mouse, but that is the motivating fiction.

But what’s even worse is that people with the right lawyers get to harass people into paying royalties on things they have the flimsiest pretense to have copyright to. “Happy Birthday to You” is the most famous egregious case of this. And we finally have a ruling on it: Not Copyrighted.

This was the most ridiculous copyright fraud. Now we get to see if Warner (who has been extorting all these payments) will have to pay back what they’ve collected. I hope they do, with significant damages.

But they will never pay back all those who have been kept away from this public property by fear of lawsuit. Not that I personally think “Happy Birthday to You” is a probably fountain of derived works that have been suppressed. But I wouldn’t know. Good or bad, they were suppressed. But mostly I think Warner should pay big to make an example of them, which they have richly earned. And paying for restraint of creativity ought to be on the list.

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