Originally titled “Good Morning to All”, the “happy birthday” song was written by two sisters – Patty Hill and Mildred J. Hill – in 1893. A lawsuit filed by “Good Morning to You Productions Corp” argues that the public use of the popular song should be free since Warner’s and Chappell’s copyright license has expired.
“Good Morning to You Productions Corp” is a film company that started working on a documentary about the “happy birthday” song. To stay within the legal boundaries and avoid being accused of copyright infringement, the documentary’s producers have paid a $1.500 “synchronization license fee”. But they did not stop there…
The company’s decided to make the song free for everyone; as such, it filed lawsuit on Thursday, hoping that Warner and Chappell Music would return the millions of dollars they’ve collected over the years.
“More than 120 years after the melody to which the simple lyrics of ‘Happy Birthday to You’ is set was first published, defendant Warner/Chappell boldly, but wrongfully and unlawfully, insists that it owns the copyright to ‘Happy Birthday to You,’” the lawsuit states.
“Why is there a copyright on the song?” one may ask; well, because its lyrics turned up in a 1924 songbook and a 1935 piano arrangement.
The film company argued that it can provide with “irrefutable documentary evidence, some dating back to 1893, [which] shows that the copyright to ‘Happy Birthday,’ if there ever was a valid copyright to any part of the song, expired no later than 1921 and that if defendant Warner/Chappell owns any rights to ‘Happy Birthday,’ those rights are limited to the extremely narrow right to reproduce and distribute specific piano arrangements for the song published in 1935.”
Furthermore, the lawsuit states that Warner and Chappell have collected a minimum of $2 million a year just from license fees. It continues to point out that Clayton Summy had bought the song’s rights from the two sisters, offering in exchange 10% of the retail sales. In 1998, Warner and Chappell purchased the copyright license from Birch Tree Ltd. – a company that traces back to Clayton.
“Even though the lyrics to ‘Happy Birthday to You’ and the song ‘Happy Birthday to You’ had not been fixed in a tangible medium of expression, the public began singing ‘Happy Birthday to You’ no later than the early 1900s,” the complaint writes.
“Robert Brauneis, a professor at George Washington University Law School, said he searched nationwide for evidence of a copyright for a combination of the melody for “Good Morning to All” with the lyrics for “Happy Birthday to You” for an article published in 2009 but did not find any,” a Reuters report informs.
If the court of law favors “Good Morning to You Productions Corp”, then we’ll have a very exciting turn of events.
Also, those who are interested in the plaintiff’s arguments can find them here.
The controversial three strikes law meant to combat online piracy in France saw its first victim at a time when its validity is called into question by the government
As many of you already know the system works like this: it all starts with a complaint of a copyright owner; at first the alleged illegal downloader gets an e-mail warning in which he/she is asked to cease any activity involving illegal file-sharing. In its second phase, the system implies a certified letter being sent to the owner of the internet connection used in the illegal file-sharing activities. Finally, the third phase of the system means the actual suspension of the internet connection of the individual suspected of downloading copyright protected content.
HADOPI’s first ofender was cut off the internet for fifteen days and fined 600 EURO. He is now prevented from accessing any Internet service with the exception of e-mail, VoIP and chat services which fall under the right to communicate. However, the ofender has 10 days to appeal to the decision until the penalty is applied.
Over the last few months the controversy around the three strikes legislation has increased a great deal and the future of this is rather questionable. Last month, a conclusion by a government commission read that the internet suspension should be removed as penalty and lower fines should be imposed instead.
After a close look at the current copyright law, the commission proposed for a copyright levy – this means that users would pay a small tax for each device that can be used to play digital media, a tax that already exists in other countries neighbouring France.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Digital Media, Mobile Phones, P2P technology, Entertainment Industry, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services
Following England’s workarounds on the issue of online piracy we find that Sky, Virgin Media, BT, and probably other internet providers have started an off-the-books campaign against pirate proxies.
While some of the world’s most popular torrent sites, including TPB, Kat.ph, H33t, and Fenopy, can no longer be accessed on the island, at least not by their original web addresses, people have turned their heads towards alternatives – that is pirate proxies – and, apparently, the BPI and UK’s ISPs had done the same. Although the list of blocked torrent proxies is off the records, TorrentFreak had managed to publish some of the names, as following:
“Although the results may not be the same for all providers, the following sites appear to be blocked (in part) now. All sites in this list provide access to at least one of the torrent sites previously blocked by court order,” TF notes.
Drastik, the man who operates Pirateproxy.net, had told TF that:
“I never thought the BPI would go this far. I have already started setting up new servers for the blocks. However, I think educating people about alternate methods will be better. I have compiled a list of some good methods on a dedicated page,” he said.
“I will continue to move the site to new servers to keep it accessible.”
As for the other side of the camp, a BPI spokesperson said that…
“The court orders obtained in relation to The Pirate Bay cover not only the site itself, but also sites which have the sole or predominant purpose of providing access to The Pirate Bay. It would not be right to allow proxy sites flagrantly to circumvent blocks ordered by the High Court. We do not publish the names of proxies and it would not be appropriate for us to do so.”
Well, folks, it looks like the jig is up, but we have a feeling that this is far from over, especially that these rushed blockages are likely to set another route for those who really want to get their torrent feed.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Digital Media, Mobile Phones, P2P technology, Entertainment Industry, Legal P2P News & Issues
Back in 2009, France adopted what was regarded as the toughest anti-piracy law in the world, but now things may change thanks to the country’s new government.
At the time being, France’s anti-piracy law states that repeat offenders (after receiving two notices) are to have their internet account suspended. Such drastic measures were seen, right from the start, as unconstitutional and abrasive.
Despite claims from former president Nicolas Sarkozy that the three-strikes system was a good idea (read more here), the legislation proved to be too expensive to justify the effort.
Four years later and who (really) knows how many millions of euros spent on manpower and e-mail notices, and the agency responsible with enforcing the anti-piracy law (aka HADOPI) may go offline, permanently.
“In financial terms, 12 million euros a year and 60 officers, it’s an expensive way to send a million e-mails,” France’s Culture Minister said last year.
Fleur Pellerin – France’s minister in charge with internet policy – attended a high-technology meeting in Sweden and said that HADOPI is stifling the growth of digital economy.
“Today, it’s not possible to cut off Internet access,” she said.
“It’s something like cutting off water.”
Back in April, Pierre Lescure – former president of Canal Plus –proposed switching from disconnection to fines of 60 euros to 78 euros for repeat offenders.
Lescure’s report favored the disbandment of HADOPI, but not before transferring some of its prerogatives to the Conseil supérieur de l’ audiovisuel – France’s media regulator.
While his ideas proved to gain the support of governmental officials, other reports, including a study by Wellesley College and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, showed that disconnecting repeat infringers pushed others towards legal alternatives, including iTunes.
However, the music industry is still on a slippery slope, at least according to SNEP, a French recording company group who said that the industry’s revenues dropped by 6.7% in the first quarter of this year. The group continued to point out that France’s population prefers illegal alternatives – the number of people who visit “rogue websites” has increased by 7% in a period of 3 years (2010-2013).
SNEP’s Director General Guillaume Leblanc agreed that disconnecting people from the internet is not a solution. Instead, he said, the e-mail notification system should stand, while imposing bigger fines for repeat offenders.
“Maintaining graduated response is essential for the music industry,” Leblanc said.
“For the legal offer to keep developing, it’s important to have strong copyright protection on the Internet.”
On the other hand…
“If you cannot chop off a few heads as an example, then the chopping machine inspires less fear,” Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesman for La Quadrature du Net, said.
Those who support HADOPI think different, stating that disconnecting people from the internet was never the point of the law.
“From our standpoint this was always meant to be an educational and deterrent measure,” Frances Moore, chief executive at the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, stated.
As we all know, France’s system has been adopted by other countries, including South Korea and the US.
Brett Danaher, a professor at Wellesley College who helped with putting up together a study that examined the effectiveness of HADOPI said:
“Looking at this politically, if one of the few countries where they were able to get the political support to pass this — if they get rid of it, it could make it harder to do graduated response elsewhere.”
The entertainment industry should focus more on blocking infringing websites rather than on individuals, he and others consider.
“We have to take a holistic approach,” Ms. Moore said.
“Web site blocking and alert systems are just two tools.”
What’s next for France and how will these changes affect the entertainment industry remains to be seen.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Digital Media, Mobile Phones, P2P technology
A few days ago we found out that the IP Commission filed a report to the US government, asking permission to use malware as an anti-piracy tool. The 84-pages-long document caused a lot of tension and is likely to end up in the trash bin faster than you can say “Piracy is not theft!”
The document’s outrageous provisions made the headlines late last month, while being subject to various debates on how was this possible.
Drew Wilson of the ZeroPaid believes that the commission’s proposal is doomed to fail right from the start.
Additionally, software can be written that will allow only authorized users to open files containing valuable information. If an unauthorized person accesses the information, a range of actions might then occur. For example, the file could be rendered inaccessible and the unauthorized user’s computer could be locked down, with instructions on how to contact law enforcement to get the password needed to unlock the account. Such measures do not violate existing laws on the use of the Internet, yet they serve to blunt attacks and stabilize a cyber incident to provide both time and evidence for law enforcement to become involved.
When theft of valuable information, including intellectual property, occurs at network speed, sometimes merely containing a situation until law enforcement can become involved is not an entirely satisfactory course of action. While not currently permitted under U.S. law, there are increasing calls for creating a more permissive environment for active network defense that allows companies not only to stabilize a situation but to take further steps, including actively retrieving stolen information, altering it within the intruder’s networks, or even destroying the information within an unauthorized network. Additional measures go further, including photographing the hacker using his own system’s camera, implanting malware in the hacker’s network, or even physically disabling or destroying the hacker’s own computer or network.
“When I read these two paragraphs [from the commission's report], it was immediately clear that the author was under the false assumption that computer files operate like physical property. As anyone with a hint of knowledge about how computers work know, if a file is downloaded, it’s simply copied from one computer to another rather than physically moved,” Drew wrote.
He went on to explain that DRM-protected files end-up on file-sharing websites with that protection disabled, so it would be useless to “plant” a virus (that disables the access to certain files) into someone’s computer.
“In fact, some software developers even went so far as to encode trojan horses into pieces of software should the copy protection be removed (Re: Gladiator vs. Air incident),” Drew continued.
Instead of helping, this method proved to actually drive people towards illegal copies of the game.
Another problem with the commission’s proposals is this: malware affects only Windows files (and in rare cases Mac files as well); even if the US government decides to allow the IP Commission to legally infect people’s computers, it would account for nothing. Why? Because there will always be an alternative – such as Linux OS, which in the past years had become friendlier than ever, even to those who have never used it before.
“In fact, as a user of legally purchased software, I’ve come across numerous instances where I am suddenly locked out of my own software because the key system was buggy. This was both in Mac environments and Windows environments on completely different networks. The common link between these cases was that it was Adobe software. If Adobe failed to create a properly functioning key system, what chances do other smaller vendors have in the first place?” Drew pointed out.
The report’s only achievement, if passed, would be to force people buy two computers, one for piracy, and one for regular activities.
“There would be numerous pitfalls to such a policy as well. One of the biggest I can foresee is that vendors who are foolish enough to even attempt it are opening themselves to legal liability. If a computer system is locked down because of a false alarm on a business network, I would say that the company in question has every reason to sue for loss of productivity. If a whole network is disabled in an office building of a few hundred employees for a whole day because of a bug in whatever the DRM system has, it’s not out of the question that a seven figure lawsuit would result,” Drew concluded.
Overall, the idea of such measures is outrageous, but you can never know what the US Government is willing to do in order to deter online piracy.