Quantcast
Connect with us

US judge refuses to dismiss ‘This Land is Your Land’ lawsuit

Published

on

From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters, “This Land is Your Land” may yet be for you and me.

A federal judge in Manhattan has refused to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that Woody Guthrie’s classic 1940 folk song “This Land is Your Land” belongs to the public.

In a Wednesday night decision, U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts said members of Satorii, a New York band that recorded two versions of “This Land,” could pursue federal copyright claims against two publishers that control rights to the song.

ADVERTISEMENT

Batts also dismissed several state law claims.

Paul LiCalsi, a lawyer for the defendants Ludlow Music and The Richmond Organization, declined to comment on Thursday.

The June 2016 lawsuit is among a series of cases by the lawyer Mark Rifkin and his firm, Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, to move classic American songs into the public domain.

These included successful quests to return “We Shall Overcome,” the civil rights anthem associated with the folk singer Pete Seeger, and “Happy Birthday to You” to the public.

“We look forward to returning another iconic song to the public,” Rifkin said in an email.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Library of Congress said Guthrie, then 27, wrote “This Land,” in reaction to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” which he thought glossed over wealth and land inequality in the country.

Satorii said the “This Land” melody was “substantially identical” to a Baptist gospel hymn from around the start of the 20th century, known by such titles as “Fire Song.” It also said any copyright to “This Land” was forfeited several decades ago.

The defendants said Satorii lacked power to challenge their copyrights simply because it paid a $45.50 licensing fee to produce “This Land,” including one version with a different melody, and said it might owe another fee to make a music video.

ADVERTISEMENT

But the judge said the band realized it might be sued if it did not pay the fees, making the payments involuntary.

“Litigation over the song is likely to commence if and when plaintiffs release version 2 or their music video without obtaining a license to the disputed copyright,” Batts wrote. “Therefore, plaintiffs have standing to pursue their claims.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Ludlow invoked its copyright in 2004 when it threatened to sue JibJab Media Inc over its “This Land” parody video featuring the main candidates in that year’s U.S. presidential election, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat John Kerry.

That dispute was resolved, and the parody remains publicly available.

The case is Saint-Amour et al v The Richmond Organization Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-04464.

ADVERTISEMENT

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by James Dalgleish


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

‘Jury tampering’: Internet explodes after WH threatens senators their heads ‘will be on a pike’ if they vote to convict

Published

on

The news was so shocking some thought it was fake. But as CBS News reports, the White House is threatening Republican Senators to not vote to convict President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial, or else.

That "or else" was revealed by CBS News' Chief Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes, who reports, "One Trump confidant tells CBS News that GOP senators have been warned: 'Vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.'"

The revelation comes at the 1:17 mark:

In opening statements, House managers examined the debunked conspiracy theories invoked by Pres. Trump.

Continue Reading

Facebook

The View’s Meghan McCain responds to GOP senator’s smear of impeachment witness: What about Hillary Clinton?

Published

on

"The View" co-host Meghan McCain changed the subject from Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to Hillary Clinton during a discussion of the impeachment trial.

Guest host Ana Navarro took exception to Blackburn's attacks on Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified against President Donald Trump in the impeachment inquiry, after House managers cited his allegations against the president and some of his top officials.

"Yesterday Sen. Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee spent hours, tweeted out and spent hours on TV attacking Vindman, Alexander Vindman, questioned his patriotism," Navarro said. "This is a guy who has a Purple Heart because of the injuries he received in the Iraq War, he still has shrapnel in his body. His parents are Soviet Jews who fled communism. I can't explain how angry I am about that."

Continue Reading
 

Commentary

Fox News’ coverage of Trump’s impeachment trial has been an embarrassing joke

Published

on

When Rep. Hakeem Jeffries addressed the U.S. Senate on Thursday night as part of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, there was a crucial difference between how Jeffries’ speech was covered on different cable news outlets: while CNN and MSNBC broadcast the speech, Fox News muted the speech while its pundits offered pro-Trump talking points. CNN and MSNBC allowed viewers to hear Jeffries making a compelling case for removing Trump from office; Fox News let viewers see Jeffries but not hear him. And that Trump-friendly way of covering the trial is the subject of an article journalist Aaron Rupar wrote for Vox this week.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image