Happy Birthday

I was thrilled to see the news of summary judgment declaring what we’ve all known for decades to be true: The copyright cash cow for the 1800s song Happy Birthday is invalid. It’s sort of like the ultimate patent troll, but with copyright. It’s astonishing that nobody has pursued this sooner, but perhaps it’s been a matter of the right evidence becoming available to make it stick.

Public Domain Alternate History

Had copyright law remained as it was in 1957, quite a list of works would have become public domain on January 1, 2014. As noted at the link, famous works will tend to remain available, if not as inexpensively so as might be the case, but I am concerned with orphan works. When I look up books I liked as a child and cannot find them in print, or in print at a price one can afford, then the copyright holder either has no interest in holding them in copyright, or there is no living copyright holder, heir or assign who is aware or interested in that status. Such works have no reason to remain protected. Even if that protection lies only in fear that someone who can legitimately prove ownership might come out of the woodwork after all, if any interest is shown.

Worst are the academic publications that are behind overpriced paywalls that keep the useful arts and sciences from being promoted. Congress ought to be ashamed of extending copyrights to unconstitutional lengths, and courts out to be ashamed of going along with it. At least, I assume they have, since there must have been challenges. Copyright should not be controlled by media corporations. That was never the idea.