This Land Isn't Your Land
JibJab is now being threatened with a copyright lawsuit by the rights holders of "This Land is Your Land." The song, written by renowned leftist folk singer Woody Guthrie in 1940, is apparently still under copyright. And the copyright is now in the hands of Ludlow Music Inc. Guthrie, incidentally, often put this copyright notice on his songs: "This song is Copyrighted in U.S. for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do." The song was part of a book of songs that Guthrie himself privately published and dedicated to the public domain. After Guthrie became famous (and thus his songs worth money) Ludlow Music unleashed its lawyers to have them withdrawn from the public domain. Aside from the assault on Fair Use, this episode provides further proof that copyrights last too long. If the original 28-year copyright maximum still existed, "This Land is Your Land" would have been in the public domain where it belongs long ago. Woody Guthrie is dead. He cannot be encouraged to keep creating through copyright protection.I'd say its Fair Use.
Here's a CNN Money article on the dispute.