The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Community News Network

January 3, 2013

Slate: Can we replace the "Happy Birthday" song?

Creative Commons, the nonprofit organization behind those popular online copyright licenses, recently turned 10 years old. To mark the occasion, the Free Music Archive (FMA) has launched a contest to replace the "Happy Birthday" song with a new tune that people could use for free.

The traditional song is not in the public domain: It was acquired in 1988 by Warner Music Group, which reportedly collects "upward of $2 million a year from film and TV fees off the song," and their copyright is not scheduled to expire until 2030.

As Paul Collins demonstrated in Slate in 2011, that copyright claim is highly dubious, but it has not yet been successfully disputed, in part because it is probably cheaper to simply pay the fee than to challenge the claim in court.

Sometimes, though, movies and shows avoid the fees by using their own birthday compositions. The FMA collected a bunch of those alternatives in a video. As usual, Mister Rogers wins. (Sadly missing: the birthday song Jack Black performed on Saturday Night Live several years ago, probably the greatest alternative to "Happy Birthday" ever written.)

If you want to submit your own alternative birthday song, you can read the rules at the FMA website. Entries are due by Jan. 13, and judges include Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo and past Slate contributor Lawrence Lessig of Harvard University.

---

http://slate.me/W2cv8t

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Affirmative action ruling challenges colleges seeking diversity

    The U.S. Supreme Court's support of Michigan's ban on race-based affirmative action in university admissions may spur colleges to find new ways to achieve diversity without using racial preferences.

    April 23, 2014

  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014

  • The waffle taco's biggest enemy isn't McDonald's. It's consumer habits.

    Gesturing to Taco Bell, Thompson said McDonald's had "not seen an impact relative to the most recent competitor that entered the [breakfast] space," and that new competition would only make McDonald's pursue breakfast more aggressively.

    April 23, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 21, 2014