Re:Create Recap – Week of July 27

Happy Birthday Song Could Celebrate Entry Into Public Domain. The New York Times’ article, New Evidence Should Free ‘Happy Birthday’ From Copyright, Lawyers Say, details documents showing that the popular “Happy Birthday to You” song has been free of copyright restrictions for decades. The story reports that the current copyright holder collects an estimated “$2 million a year for the song’s use in films, television shows and other productions.”

Hollywood Using Trade Negotiations To Push Copyright Agenda. Politico’s Doug Palmer reports on negotiations taking place as Disney and major Hollywood studios work to strengthen copyright protections and piracy penalties as the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact negotiations move closer to completion. In his July 29 story, Hollywood seeks big gains from Asia-Pacific pact, Palmer highlights concerns by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other digital rights groups that are sounding the alarms based on the fact that the copyright terms being pushed are more restrictive than currently required by international treaties (subscription required).

1.4 Million Reasons For New Exemptions To DMCA. Software vulnerabilities recently revealed by a team of hackers have forced Chrysler to recall 1.4 million vehicles. The recall is an important development as digital rights groups fight for security and safety research exemptions to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In a July 24 Wired story, After Jeep Hack, Chrysler Recalls 1.4M Vehicles for Bug Fix, Andy Greenberg writes, “One recall won’t change the fact that cars, SUVs and trucks are increasingly connected to the Internet and vulnerable to hacker attacks like the one Valasek and Miller have demonstrated.”

Twitter’s Copyright Actions Are No Laughing Matter. Twitter has begun taking down jokes for copyright infringement, NPR reported on July 28. The company’s copyright actions surrounding the age-old pastime of telling and retelling jokes have been widely covered this week and raises a number of questions. Copyright attorney Jim Burger commented on Twitter’s actions, saying “You can copyright a joke, but it’s not a very strong copyright…And a lot of jokes are derivative of other jokes, so I think you would have a hard time defending your copyright.” Meanwhile, New York University law professor Christopher Jon Sprigman said “you can’t copyright an idea, only a way of expression; if a joke can only be expressed in a few ways you probably can’t get a copyright on it.”

House Judiciary Committee Takes Next Step In Reviewing Copyright Law. On July 22, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) announced they are advancing the committee’s copyright law review by inviting past copyright hearing witnesses and other interested parties to meet with their staff. The announcement states that, “Over the prior two years, the Committee has held 20 hearings with 100 witnesses in order to undertake the most comprehensive review of American copyright law.” Read more on the announcement here.

Putting The Heat On The Trade Rep To Protect Fair Use. Re:Create coalition member Public Knowledge penned a letter to United States Trade Representative Michael Froman urging him to protect fair use and the public domain. In the July 24 letter, Public Knowledge President Gene Kimmelman raises concerns that “provisions in the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement could harm Americans by weakening exceptions and limitations available under U.S. law, including fair use.” The organization has continuously raised concerns over the trade agreement being “negotiated entirely behind closed doors.”