‘This Land Is Your Land’ May Indeed Belong to You and Me

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Woody Guthrie in an undated photo.

Associated Press

The classical folk strain “This Land Is Your Land” might literally go to we and me.

That’s a box being pulpy by a same law organisation that swayed a sovereign decider final year that “Happy Birthday to You” belongs in a open domain.

The New York firm, Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman Herz, also hopes to do a same for a Civil Rights-era criticism strain “We Shall Overcome.”

But a fit filed Tuesday over Woody Guthrie’s classical “This Land Is Your Land” is directed during liberating a strain famous to generations of schoolchildren who have lifted their voices to sing about a giveaway nation belonging to one and all, sprawling “from California to New York Island, from a redwood timberland to a Gulf Stream waters.”

The fit was filed on seductiveness of a Brooklyn rope Satorii, that available dual versions of a song. It argues that a strain belongs to a open and not to a Richmond Organization and a subsidiary, Ludlow Music, a edition association that collects chartering fees to use a composition. Ludlow did not lapse phone calls or answer an email summary seeking criticism on Thursday.

The law organisation seems to be building a specialty in liberating classical low-pitched works. An progressing lawsuit, also filed opposite Ludlow in April, focused on “We Shall Overcome,” a strain prolonged compared with a folk thespian Pete Seeger, who died in 2014. The organisation also successfully released a “Happy Birthday” copyright from Warner Music Group.

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Interestingly, Seeger might have achieved Guthrie’s strain some-more than anyone else over a decades, including a supposed lost verses, in that a anecdotist ignores a “Private Property” sign. Those lyrics are not in a versions cited in this lawsuit.

Mark Rifkin, one of a firm’s lawyers, who assimilated dual colleagues in filing a class-action fit on seductiveness of a rope and anyone else who paid fees to permit a work, explained their thinking: “Somewhere along a approach we got sidetracked by giving companies a right to possess copyrights and to distinction from them prolonged after a creators of a work have died and prolonged after anyone else has an seductiveness in safeguarding a work.”

As with a progressing cases, a “This Land” suit, filed in a United States District Court for a Southern District of New York, traces what a organisation calls a circuitous trail of missed or deceptive copyright claims.

Guthrie wrote a strain in 1940 in response to a Irving Berlin strain “God Bless America,” that he felt insufficiently addressed land and resources inequality, according to a Library of Congress. Originally patrician “God Blessed America for Me,” a strain warranted a complicated name after Guthrie introduced a refrain “this land was done for we and me.”

In 1945, he published a strain with a copyright notice that was never renewed, Satorii and their lawyers say. As a result, that copyright would have lapsed — and a strain would have entered a open domain — 28 years later, in 1973, they say.

Despite Guthrie’s publication, Ludlow filed for a possess copyright of a strain in 1956, according to a suit. It asserted that copyright in 2004, when it threatened to sue JibJab Media over a now-famous “This Land” satire of that year’s presidential competition between a Democrat John Kerry and a Republican George W. Bush.

JibJab.com “This Land!” Video by JibJab

The groups reached a allotment that summer in that JibJab was authorised to continue distributing a parody.

But Satorii and a lawyers disagree that Ludlow never had a right to explain a copyright in a initial place.

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Guthrie, they said, borrowed a tune from a Baptist gospel strain from a late 19th or early 20th century famous variously as “Fire Song,” “When a World’s on Fire,” “What You Gonna Do When a World’s on Fire,” and “O My Loving Brother.”

And even if he or Ludlow had justly cumulative a copyright to a lyrics, a rope and organisation note mixed occasions in that a difference were printed in manuscript ship records though a copyright notice, in outcome forfeiting rights to them, they argue.

The rope is not usually seeking a legal stipulation that a strain belongs in a open domain, though also that a publisher lapse all fees associated to a chartering of a strain paid by any particular or organisation given 2010.

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