Tag: music

Further Update on Happy Birthday Copyright

Christine Mai-Duc / Los Angeles Times

Christine Mai-Duc / Los Angeles Times

A US judge (George King) has ruled that Warner/Chappell, which acquired the copyright to Happy Birthday in 1988, only bought rights to specific arrangements of the melody, not to the actual song. Warner/Chappell got the rights when it bought another company, which was the successor to yet another company, which got the rights from sisters Mildred and Patty Hill, who wrote the song Good Morning to All in 1893. That song was meant to be sung in class by school children, and the melody was later combined with the Happy Birthday lyrics that we know today. If you’re as confused as I am, then you’re getting a glimpse at the mess which is current copyright law.

This judgement applies only to the US, and only to part of the song. Other parts of the song and other renditions of it may still be encumbered, so think twice before posting your birthday party on Youtube if it contains any part of the Happy Birthday song. Read the linked articles for more clarificatioon.

Here are my first and second posts on this topic.

Here are links to the story at NPR, BBC, the LA Times and the Hollywood Reporter.

A small step in the right direction, since this song might finally be kinda, sorta, partially in the public domain at last.

rjb

Musopen

musopenmusopen-BeethovenOn August 15, 2010, Aaron Dunn of Musopen launched a Kickstarter project to raise money for a recording goal. His vision was to hire an internationally renowned orchestra to record some great classical music, and then release it into the public domain. Aaron was already running Musopen, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing the world with copyright-free music. Now he wanted to see if he could find people who had the same ideal, and were willing to put up some money for it. He set the funding goal at $11,000. By the end of the thirty day funding period, the total was $68,359. After this pleasant surprise, it was just a matter of getting it done. Now there is music by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert and others available free to all music lovers.
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After that phenomenal success, Aaron Dunn was encouraged to try again. There’s another Kickstarter project called Set Chopin Free. The project runs until October 20, 2013, with a funding goal of $75,000. As of this writing it has been running for two days and has reached almost $25,000. I think I can safely predict that it will reach its goal by the deadline, and that Aaron will achieve his goal of recording all of Frederic Chopin‘s music and setting it free.

If you love music I heartily recommend checking out this Kickstarter project and seeing the rewards available to you. And don’t forget to go to the Musopen site and download a bunch of free music. Or you can go to the Internet Archive Musopen page and download a whole DVD of it.

rjb

Sita Sings the Blues

Image credit - Nina Paley

Image credit – Nina Paley


Photo credit - Wikimedia

Photo credit – Wikimedia


While I was writing Green Comet, I happened upon Sita Sings the Blues, an animated movie created by Nina Paley. I enjoyed Sita very much. The animation work and the storytelling are excellent. It’s based on the Indian legend about Sita and Rama and their love. Paley released Sita under a Creative Commons license, the one I’m using for Green Comet: Attribution and ShareAlike. She has since updated the license to CC0, putting the movie in the public domain. As far as she could, anyway.
Photo credit - Wikimedia

Photo credit – Wikimedia


The movie includes some great songs by Annette Hanshaw. The music is worth the price of admission by itself. Unfortunately, those recordings are still under copyright and, while they are used legally in Sita, they’re still restricted elsewhere. That’s why Sita Sings the Blues still can’t be completely free, even though its creator wants it to be.
Image credit - Nina Paley

Image credit – Nina Paley

But it’s still free to download and watch, which I encourage you to do. It’s available in smaller sizes of a few hundred megabytes, as well as a full-sized DVD image complete with director’s cut. You can even buy a DVD, if you want.
Image credit - Nina Paley

Image credit – Nina Paley

Go ahead and watch it. You’ll be glad you did.

rjb

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