(Roughly) Daily

Many Happy Returns…

 

The Free Music Archive has found a replacement for the most recognizable– and probably the most lucrative– song in America– “Happy Birthday To You.”  Together with WFMU, FMA ran a contest to find a new copyright-free (and free to use) “Happy Birthday” song…

The “Happy Birthday To You” melody was published in the late 1800s by two sisters who taught elementary school, and it was registered for copyright, as “Happy Birthday To You” in 1935. Time Warner acquired the copyright in 1998. The song reportedly brings in two million dollars a year from licensing for films, TV shows, advertisements and the like; it won’t enter the public domain until 2030 at the earliest.

WFMU thought it was dubious that the song still deserves copyright protection, but rather than mount a court challenge, it sponsored a competition for a new birthday celebration song. Among the judges were Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig and Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan.

As WFMU says, the new song puts the happy back into birthdays, and takes the cease and desist out of them.

The winning tune, by  Monk Turner + Fascinoma lacks the opportunity to shout out the birthday person’s name; but there is room to build in a call and response element. You can download the sheet music in the key of B (pdf, google doc) or the key of C (pdf, google doc). Also, check out the alternative versions of the song including two piano tracks and an instrumental version.

And you can hear it, playing behind Bloomberg Law’s recounting of the case, here:

[TotH to Laughing Squid]

###

As we hum a different tune, we might send public domain birthday greetings to Wilhelm Carl Grimm; he was born on this date in 1786.  The younger of the Brothers Grimm, Wilhelm and Jacob collected and published folk and “fairy” tales… a great many of which, freely available as they are in the public domain, have been used as the texts of animated and live action films that are– and will for decades be– under strict copyright protection (c.f., for example, this list of Disney films based on fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm and others).

[Cake photo sourced here; Grimm, here]

 

Written by LW

February 24, 2013 at 1:01 am

%d bloggers like this: