A little over two years ago we noted the filing of Good Morning to You Productions v. Warner/Chappell Music, a class action law suit which seeks a declaratory judgment that Warner’s putative copyright on the ubiquitous ditty “Happy Birthday to You” is invalid, along with the refund of millions of dollars in licensing fees collected by Warner over…

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The jury has spoken in the Robin Thicke “Blurred Lines” copyright infringement case, finding that the song infringes the copyright on Marvin Gaye’s 1977 “Got to Give it Up” and awarding the Gaye estate  over 7 million dollars in damages. The case has been framed by music industry talking heads and the press as one…

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Last year the corporate alter ego of former Turtles frontmen Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman—Flo & Eddie, Inc.—filed a class action lawsuit against Sirius XM. Their claim is that pre-1972 sound recordings, such as the Turtles’s classics “Happy Together” and “Eleanore,” which have no federal copyright protection, are nonetheless protected against unauthorized use under California state law. In…

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The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) is 100 years old today. I have a guest post on ASCAP’s profound influence on the course of American popular music over at the Oxford University Press blog.

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On a rain-soaked night in October 1913, an Irishman, a Scotsman, and a Romanian-born Jew walked into Lüchow’s Restaurant, the German sausage and schnitzel emporium on Manhattan’s East 14th Street. The punch line? The dinner those three European émigrés shared on that night 100 years ago set in motion a chain of events that has…

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 In one of the very first posts on this blog last year, we reported on Victor Willis’s “early victory” in his quest to recover valuable copyrights on songs he co-wrote for the Village People back in the 1970s.  (Willis, pictured here, was also their lead singer, dressed back in the day as the “cop.”) Willis was one of…

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The lead vocals for Frank Zappa’s fine 1970 Chunga’s Revenge album were performed by a duo billed  as the THE PHLORESCENT LEECH & EDDIE. It was a badly kept secret that this was actually Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, founders of the 60s soft rock band the Turtles, who used the pseudonym due to a lingering contractual dispute…

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Music professor, rock historian, and guitarist John Covach has suggested that tribute bands may play an important role in the future of rock music, keeping up a live performance tradition long after the original acts are gone, much as a symphony orchestra keeps the classical repertoire alive. If so, a newly filed case reported on…

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Stick around until the lights come up after any movie in which characters sing “Happy Birthday to You” (and there are probably a dozen of those every year), and one of the last credits you see will be a copyright notice for that song, noting that it was used with the permission of Warner/Chappell Music,…

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I still have a Proustian experience every time I take my old vinyl copies of The Who Live at Leeds or The Mothers-Fillmore East June 1971 off the shelf.  It is not just fond memories of seeing those bands perform back in the early 70s that come flooding back.  The artless covers and handwritten labels…

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