Do you know it’s technically illegal to sing Happy Birthday in public? Yes, that song has a copyright just like any other song and to sing it in public triggers licensing fees to the copyright owners.
Yes, YouTube has been removing videos that have music violations of any kind for a while now. Which brings up SOPA – Stop Online Privacy Act. Congress is being pushed by leaders in entertainment and publishing to be able to regulate what internet sites can be closed down. But the bill would be overreaching and open the door for sites like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Youtube to present thousands of potential violations and reason to be shut down immediately. Obviously we don’t want that.
Our 48Days.net site was shut down a couple months ago. One of the 10,000 members had posted someone’s blog notes (complete with link to the original posting). The author complained to our hosting company and they shut the site down without even contacting us. That’s the kind of nonsense that this over-regulation would set up.
Many authors have been pushing for passing of this bill – certainly, I am not one of them. The fear that having ideas shared dilutes their value somehow escapes me. Yes, I know authors, musicians and artists need to be compensated for their work but we need creative approaches and economic models for sharing more, not less.
In a statement released over the weekend, the White House said it would not support any bill that would “inhibit innovation,” for American business and vowed to protect “the openness of the Internet.” Thank goodness for that. But be careful singing Happy Birthday at your next company party. You need to be paying a royalty fee for that. (And yes, I paid a fee to use the picture here – I didn’t just grab it from the internet)