Happy Birthday Song

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Factual Summary:

Mr. Bandleader, a restaurant owner refuses to pay copyright for “Happy Birthday” song. His point was that he was not singing the same song he had his own version which was better than original. The other point was he can’t pay one million dollars for a law suit because he is not making that much of money. If he has to pay the money, he has to shut down his restaurant. Mr. Singstealer owns the copyrights of the “Happy Birthday”. Song was his only source of income and Mr. Joe is the restaurant customer who loves the restaurant’s food and also loves the song. His mother used to sing for him and now he sings for his children.

Issue(s):

Is singing “Happy Birthday” song for business purposes against the copy rights?

Is it right to make some changes to original version and try to get away from copyright rules and regulations?

Legal Concept(s):

According to copyright law code 101, “musical works, including any accompanying words are protected within the copyright law”. This will be the first point that I’ll keep in my mind as an arbitrator in charge. But there is another point which is very values able so solve this case under the same code. “The copyright in a compilation or derivative work extends only to the material contributed by the author of such work”. By following the first point Mr. Band leader is 100% guilty but the second point is defending him. So I have to see both versions and their resemblance. Case decision will depend on the resemblance. Analysis/Conclusion:

Is it says on any book of law that Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Mr. Blandleader is guilty of signing “Happy Birthday to you” with the copy right. As a business owner he should check the copyright laws and regulation before introducing or singing the song in his restaurant. He has to pay Mr. Singstealer the percentage that was copyrighted on the song.

References:

http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.pdf
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