Perhaps this wouldn’t be quite as big a deal if:
- The public domain in the U.S. wasn’t currently in a state of suspended animation due to the Copyright Term Extension Act (do people still call it the Sonny Bono/Mickey Mouse Copyright Act?); and
- There weren’t those stories (not apocryphal, but perhaps not as common as one hears) about ASCAP going after scout troops for royalties.
But it IS a big deal. U.S. District Judge George H. King has ruled that “Happy Birthday” is in the public domain. And thus, the public domain has expanded by just a little bit. Not a huge victory, but I think we’ll take it.
The opinion is here. As noted in the article, the case isn’t over yet, and there is the possibility of an appeal – but still … PROGRESS!