This Land Is … in the public domain

EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation): This Song Belongs to You and Me. Follow the dots as we watch a case lesson in how not to profit from copyright:

  1. Website JibJab releases immensely popular Flash animation parody of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” starring Kerry and Dubya.
  2. Ludlow Music threatens to sue JibJab, claiming it owns the copyright to Guthrie’s song.
  3. JibJab engages EFF and files suit against Ludlow, claiming fair use rights.
  4. EFF investigates and finds that Ludlow filed copyright in 1956, eleven years after Guthrie first sold sheet music with the song and sixteen years after he wrote it. In 1940, the copyright term was 28 years, renewable once. Ludlow failed to renew the copyright in 1973, so the song effectively fell into the public domain—Ludlow’s late renewal in 1984 notwithstanding.
  5. Ludlow backs down.

Cool. Good work, EFF. (Via BoingBoing.)