Re:Create Recap – Week of September 21

A Copyright Birthday Gift: Iconic “Happy Birthday” Song Freed From Hefty Licensing Fees. Re:Create has been bringing you updates on the “Happy Birthday To You” song copyright case, and this week a federal judge ruled that royalties collected on the song for the past 80 years are invalid. In the New York Post’s September 23 story, Everyone can now sing ‘Happy Birthday to You’ free of charge, Joe Tacopino quotes the attorney for the plaintiffs in the ruling, Randall Newman, who said, “We are very pleased with the judge’s decision to end this 80-year-old fraud against the public.” Read Re:Create’s statement on this important copyright ruling here and EFF’s statement here.

Celebration For Birthday Crooners But Concern Remains. Raza Panjwani, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge, also sounded off on the Happy Birthday song decision in a press release stating that the “decision is one worth celebrating.” However, Panjwani expressed concern over other works that may be under lock of the incredibly long copyright term length: “Unfortunately, few works have received the kind of in-depth study that Happy Birthday has, and the high cost of either litigating copyright ownership, or potentially violating copyright law, remain deterrents to eliminating other specious copyright claims.”

More Listening Needed On Copyright Listening Tour. In Music tech leaders criticize copyright roundtable, the Tennessean’s Nate Rau calls out the House Judiciary Chairman’s copyright listening tour stop in Nashville for not including leaders from the city’s music technology and entrepreneurship sector. Josh Collum, co-owner of music licensing firm Sorted Noise, expressed concern that lawmakers won’t get the full picture about Nashville’s music economy: “There’s this ingrained perception that Nashville is one thing…Unfortunately in order to get the full picture of what’s going on, it’s not one story. For me personally — and my big passion point is that there are issues we have to figure out and government is part of the solution — but you have to come from an educated perspective. You have to know about the success stories and ways that copyright owners are making money now that they literally had no way of making money five, six, seven years ago.”

Re:Create Coalition Calls For More Diverse Input During Listening Tour. After the House Judiciary Committee’s first stop on their listening tour in Nashville, the Re:Create Coalition released a statement on September 23 critical of the participants. “Re:Create appreciates Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers’ leadership and effort to go outside the Beltway…Unfortunately, the speakers who participated at the first stop did not represent the growing creator and entrepreneur community in Nashville.” The Coalition offered to help and “identify individuals and locations that can offer new perspectives needed to fully address copyright policy needs and challenges.”

Monkeying Around With Copyright Policy. The popular “Monkey Selfie” photo is a topic of conversation again with a new lawsuit filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) who believe the monkey should own the copyright of the photos. In a September 22 story PETA Files ‘Monkey Selfie’ Copyright Lawsuit in SF Court, the Associated Press reports, “Last year, the U.S. Copyright Office issued an updated compendium of its policies, including a section stipulating that it would register copyrights only for works produced by human beings.” The story also quotes Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe on his objections to the lawsuit: “It trivializes the terrible problems of needless animal slaughter and avoidable animal exploitation worldwide for lawyers to focus so much energy and ingenuity on whether monkeys own the copyright in selfies taken under these contrived circumstances.”

Electronic Frontier Foundation To Co-Host Freedom To Innovate Summit. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have come together to host a two day summit next month on October 11 and 12, dedicated to championing reforms to outdated criminal hacking laws and university policy that stifle innovation. In a blog post highlighting the event, Shahid Buttar and Noah Swartz explain some students are advised to avoid industries and fields of research due to patent and copyright trolls and the lack of the support from their university: “Academic institutions encourage innovation, but when innovative students run into legal trouble, their institutions often don’t support them. This is untenable.”