Friday, September 25, 2015

Happy Birthday Is Finally Public Domain

The song “Happy Birthday” finally enters the public domain, a look at the Linux distro the Chinese government is hoping to replace Windows with, people are watching fewer season premiers this year, Pebble’s got an attractive new watch, and a cat that is absolutely up to no good.

Happy Birthday Is Now Public Domain

Have you ever wondered why TV and movie characters go out of their way to avoid singing “Happy Birthday”? It’s because the song, despite its public domain melody and culturally omnipresent lyrics, weren’t free to use. Warner Music owned the rights, and they charged everyone for the right to use them. Even restaurants avoided singing the song, for fear of a lawsuit.
But no more! U.S. District Judge George H. King has ruled that the song is in the public domain, meaning everyone is free to sing it without sending a check to Warner Music.
You can read more about this decision at the Washington Post, and you totally should. The case involves a former X-Games participant finding a songbook from 1922 that includes the song with no copyright information, and a lot more legal details we can’t summarize here.
What we can do, legally, is print the lyrics to Happy Birthday, without fear of reprisal:
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear reader
Happy birthday to you!
Seriously, how was that not public domain? Crazy. Perhaps the only sad thing about this entire situation is that brilliant workarounds like this aren’t necessary anymore.

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