Posts Tagged ‘music and musicians’

January 20 roundup

  • As an experienced lawyer Hillary Clinton surely knows better than to say the things she’s saying about gun lawsuits. [Charles Cooke, thanks for citing my work]
  • While we’re at it, Ms. Clinton, there is so much wrong with your contemplated business exit tax [Ira Stoll, New York Sun]
  • Metallica vs. cover band cease/desist spat gets patched up quickly [Rockfeed, followup]
  • Alas, RICO suits harassing Colorado legal-pot business appear to be prospering [Jacob Sullum/Reason, my Cato take]
  • Judge tosses $21.5 million award in that colorful Holland America case we’ve covered [Seattle Times, earlier]
  • Labor-rights case from Colombia causing further difficulty for Terry Collingsworth, attorney known for Alien Tort suits [Daniel Fisher, earlier]
  • “Harvard Law Review Freaks Out, Sends Christmas Eve Threat Level Over Public Domain Citation Guide” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]

Intellectual property roundup

  • “At least for the moment, Defendants have shaken off this lawsuit” — court dismisses handwritten challenge to originality of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” [Lowering the Bar]
  • After nastygram from George Orwell estate, seller withdraws t-shirts bearing slogan “1984 is already here” [The Guardian] But see comment below from reader Gitarcarver (episode attributed more to CafePress over-reaction than to estate’s letter);
  • “Anne Frank’s Diary Now Has Co-Author, Extended Copyright” [Christopher Klein, History.com]
  • “What the history of Eskimo Pies tells us about software patents today” [Charles Duan, Slate]
  • University of California, Santa Barbara, has put online a gold mine of 10,000 early recordings from the cylinder era, which ended in the 1920s [Hyperallergic] But could there be a copyright snag even on material this old? [Brian Frye, Prawfsblawg]
  • Judge says company must pay $684K for pursuing “exceptionally weak” patent case [Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica]
  • More: “That Irell & Manella would let itself get played by PETA for a stupid publicity stunt that serves no purpose other than to waste the court’s time…” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt; earlier on monkey-selfie case]

Gibson Guitar “Government Series”

I somehow missed last year that Nashville’s Gibson Guitar, target of a notoriously militarized regulatory raid by the U.S. government (“When I got there, there were people in SWAT attire that evacuated our entire factory“) has not let the matter be forgotten among its customers. It has launched a product line called the Government Series II Les Paul, which “uses the wood that the Feds ultimately returned to Gibson after the resolution and the investigation was concluded.” (The raid was in service of the surprisingly cronyish and protectionist Lacey Act, which restricts import of various foreign woods.)

From the company’s announcement:

Government Series II Les Paul Great Gibson electric guitars have long been a means of fighting the establishment, so when the powers that be confiscated stocks of tonewoods from the Gibson factory in Nashville—only to return them once there was a resolution and the investigation ended—it was an event worth celebrating. Introducing the Government Series II Les Paul, a striking new guitar from Gibson USA for 2014 that suitably marks this infamous time in Gibson’s history.

Good going, Gibson.

To fit the crime: a social justice “Mikado”

The news that New York’s Gilbert & Sullivan Players have canceled a production of The Mikado because it was accused of purveying anti-Japanese stereotypes, and because there had been objections to Caucasian actors singing the parts, prompted me to write up a short piece in the new Weekly Standard on how the beloved operetta might be modernized for contemporary, social-justice-attuned ears:

So he decreed, in words succinct,
That all who flirted, leered, or winked,
Without consent-form double-inked,
Should forthwith be beheaded…

Correspondent Corey Bean contributed a verse:

My object all sublime
I shall erase the line —
Between micro-
aggressions and crime —
Between mere offense and crime;

The company for now is going to switch to a production of The Pirates of Penzance. “So now pirate-shaming is supposed to be okay?” Read the whole thing here.

“‘Happy Birthday’ Song Copyright Ruled to Be Invalid”

“The world’s most popular English language song is potentially free from copyright after a federal judge ruled on Tuesday that filmmakers challenging Warner/Chappell Music’s hold on “Happy Birthday to You” should be granted summary judgment.” [Eriq Gardner, Hollywood Reporter/Billboard] We’ve covered the saga a number of times previously. More: Lowering the Bar.

September 2 roundup

  • “Lawyer Threatens Yelp Reviewer With Lawsuit, Is Wrong” [Popehat, related Ken White on cease and desist orders]
  • “Winghouse restaurants only serve chicken wing parts, not the full drummettes, flappers and wingtips combination that traditionally defines a chicken wing, a class action lawsuit claims.” [Courthouse News, links to paywalled document]
  • Claim: what really ails law schools is lack of aggressive PR push. Readers push back in comments [Caron/TaxProf, Joe Patrice]
  • I was hoping Sen. Rand Paul would take a harder line against wildcat public employee strikes [Dave Weigel on Kentucky clerk case]
  • California’s Central Valley hit by ADA mass filings: “Griffiths said the Moore Law Firm has filed [accessibility] complaints against about 200 businesses in Fresno.” [Hanford Sentinel]
  • If the “system is rigged,” it’s not in the way Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders seem to think [Cass Sunstein, Bloomberg View]
  • Up jumps the swagman, files a claim in copyright: origins and ownership chain of “Waltzing Matilda” are murky [Sydney Morning Herald via @ContentLawyer]

Happy Birthday To Me…

If one of my family members chooses to sing the familiar “Happy Birthday To You” in celebration of my birthday today, their chances of prevailing against the tenacious lawyers at Warner Music Group appear better than ever. Law librarians helped by laying hands on a copy of a 1922 songbook in which the ditty, already by then decades old, appeared with no copyright notice; Warner/Chappell applied for copyright registration in 1935. [Above the Law, ABA Journal, BoingBoing, Joe Mullin/ArsTechnica] Earlier here, here, and here.

“The Lion Sleeps Tonight” as intellectual property study

“In the courtroom, the quiet courtroom, the lawsuit slept for decades.” Mark Steyn on “the biggest hit ever to come out of Africa – and why its author never reaped the benefits,” with attention to the cultural appropriations of Pete Seeger et al. Earlier on unrelated litigation over one American cover of “Lion,” which figured in Ted Frank’s popular post, “The Overlawyered IMix.”