The assumed answer to this question has been yes, but one filmmaker, set to make a film about the history of the song, is questioning this assumption in a very public way. Jennifer Nelson filed for a class action suit against the publishing company, Warner/Chappell, who owns the right to the song’s tune, originally a song called “Good Morning to All” written by two sisters in the late 19th Century.
Nelson’s tentatively titled documentary “Happy Birthday” includes a scene where the song is performed, and she arranged for a $1,500 licensing fee to secure the rights to use the song. Eventually, though, she came to realize that, under her interpretation of the law, Warner/Chappell didn’t own the rights to the tune. Richard Brauneis, a George Washington University law professor who agrees with her, and he’s written a 68-page article making that claim.
The question is a particularly important one for documentary filmmakers who often want to mark the passage of another year in a subject’s life and often use birthday parties to show this. On one hand, the filmmakers find it hard to make a fair use argument for use of the song, but on the other, they find the scenes in which it is included important ones to tell the story of individuals.
As the New York Times reports, Steve James paid $5,000 to include the song in his landmark documentary “Hoop Dreams.”
According to the CNN Money report on the lawsuit, the filmmaker is claiming that the Warner/Chappell group only owns the rights to a more recent 1920s piano arrangement of the song.
Nelson’s suit is seeking class action status, which would allow this lawsuit to fight to have all the previous royalties returned by Warner/Chappell. It is estimated by Nelson’s lawyer (who spoke to the New York Times) that Warner/Chappell receives about $2 million a year in deals for the song.
The music lawyer Marc D. Ostrow has a fairly comprehensive and easy-to-read explanation of the legal status of performing, recording, and exhibiting the song on his website, available here.
by Bryce J. Renninger , June 15, 2013 8:25 AM
- Lawsuit: “Happy Birthday” is not in copyright (boingboing.net)
- Filmmaker picks a copyright fight with “Happy Birthday” (arstechnica.com)
- The Battle for the ‘Happy Birthday’ Song (newsy.com)
- Filmmakers claim ‘Happy Birthday’ is public domain, sue Warner for royalties (wired.co.uk)
- Alternatives Lyrics to Singing Happy Birthday Again (music.answers.com)
- Copyright Lawsuit For The Ages: Who Owns The “Birthday Song” (djsdoingwork.com)
“You see these tourists standing outside looking at the red carpet. … It seemed very boring, so we wanted to entertain people” says Kaufman. “I think we had the most fun at Cannes.”
The newly minted protest group (actually members of a schlock movie company) thinks Cannes does a pretty bad job celebrating independent film. So they protested how they knew best: With monsters belching green foam next to the red carpet.
The Cannes Film Festival may be both the most prestigious and the most excessive celebration of cinema in the world. This year the festival began–appropriately enough–with Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, and continued with 12 days of the kind of parties where a diamond necklace worth $2.6 million could quietly disappear. There were an estimated 4,000 journalists on hand to capture the spectacle.
All of this makes Cannes an unlikely venue for Troma Films, the low-budget production house of Lloyd Kaufman, which prides itself on being the “oldest continually operating fully independent movie studio in the world“ and on making “some of the most offensive, tasteless films in the history of cinema.” It also makes the festival a great target for Troma’s latest provocation and associated documentary Occupy Cannes.
Korean American Film Festival New York (KAFFNY) invites filmmakers of all backgrounds to submit for consideration their completed long- and short-format films — fiction or non-fiction — that are relevant to the Korean American community, the Korean diaspora, Korean identified persons, or, as our name implies, New York City. KAFFNY also considers works outside the Korean nexus featuring at least one key creative member of Korean heritage, regardless of the subject matter. Filmmakers working in narrative as well as experimental, performance, or music genres are all welcome to apply!
Featuring Rachel Kaplove, Josh Quat, Rod Singleton, Evan Haigh, Andy Zou & Eric Charles. Written & Directed by Kabir Chopra, WFA 2013 Independent Film Festival nominee for his short film Strangers.
Watch it here!
The closing gala for this year’s New York Indian Film Festival (HuffPo), held in a banquet hall above NYU’s Skirball Auditorium, was alive with artists, actors, filmmakers, and thinkers with work clearly committed to making the world better – and celebrating the illuminating power of film. I was fortunate to strike up a conversation with a young man I’d seen onstage earlier in the evening, bowing with the rest of the festival’s filmmakers, now adroitly making his way through a roomful of conversations.
Amrit Singh is your average Queens-born Indian-American: musician, Law Journal editor, corporate securities litigator, and executive editor of the influential indie music website Stereogum.com. Also filmmaker. Credit: Laura June Kirsch.
“So, are you famous in some way that I should know?,” I asked tongue-in-cheek. He gracefully demurred, though within moments we were locked in a conversation about his intriguing personal history — as a musician, an International Law Journal editor, a corporate securities litigator, the executive editor of the influential indie music website Stereogum.com, an occasional television commentator, and not least, a Queens-born Indian-American. I was fascinated to learn how all these roles culminated in his moment here as a first-time filmmaker, having written, directed, produced, and appeared in the celebrated short film Dosa Hunt.
I was taken back by the breadth of his background and how well he could articulate it. I was also impressed by his film’s charming tagline: “The Greatest Hunt For South Indian Food In NYC Ever Committed To Film!” I promised to watch, but not before hearing more from its creator, Amrit Singh, himself.
Read the full article on The Huffington Post
- Jim Luce: NY Indian American Film Festival Triumphant in 13th Year (huffingtonpost.com)
- New York Indian Film Festival 2013: Opening Night Red Carpet Photos (NYIFF) (Notes from the Road) (popmatters.com)
- Indian masala in the Big Apple (thehindu.com)
- A Dalliance with Dosa Deli (chefstopblog.com)
Tomorrow, May 30th is the premiere of 2013 Winter Film Awards “Best Foreign Language Film” La Castración in La Paz BOLIVIA and also a special screening at the Miguel de Cervantes Library in SHANGHAI!!
¡Mañana 30 de mayo tenemos doble celebración! Es nuestro gran estreno en cartelera comercial de La Paz, BOLIVIA, y del otro lado del mundo tenemos función especial en SHANGHAI!!
Posted: May 22nd, 2013 by David J. Lee, filmmaker and 72 Hour Shootout Competitor
So making a movie used to be this insano process of shooting on film, using a rented camera and not knowing if you got your shots until you had gotten your reels back from processing. Then you had to get access to a flatbed or a moviola and an editing nerd who would literally cut your physical film into the story you hoped it would be.
Almost nothing was in real time. It was sort of like baking a cake, only the cake cost thousands of dollars, took the efforts of an entire team of people, and your sense of self worth was directly connected to the result, because if the cake turned out shitty, your parents would be nagging you about how you should have stayed in law school and given them grandkids by now.
Now, of course, we’ve fulfilled Francis Ford Coppola’s prophecy of the kid with the video camera and we can do it all faster, cheaper, and ostensibly better. It’s for this reason that contests like the Asian American Film Lab’s 72 Hour Shootout can even exist (www.asianamericanfilmlab.org.)
And since they do exist, this article has my suggestions on how to make the best film you can within those 3 days.
Why should you care what I think? Well, my teams have entered the Shootouts in 2007 and 2009 (as Team HeadOn) and most recently in 2012 (as Team Jong-IL). In each of those years, our films placed in the top 3 (top 2, really) and in 2009 we actually won the grand prize and a whole slew of the individual awards.
You may or may not like my teams’ films, but I figure that’s a record that suggests that we’re doing at least a few things right.
Just to be clear – this is not a guide on how to win the 72 Hour Shootout. I can’t write that article, because I don’t know how to do that, and I’m suspecting no one else does either. You can’t account for the tastes and preferences of the Film Lab staff and the guest judges for any particular year. This article is simply pragmatic advice on how to make things easier for yourselves during the process.
So, that being said, let’s get into it…
WESTMINSTER, Md. (AP) — When McDaniel College senior Ashley Hopkins graduates later this month, she will be able to tout the filmmaking skills she developed in college.
She can shoot, edit and upload videos. All she needs is an iPhone and a few apps to make it happen.
Hopkins, of Baltimore, was enrolled in the inaugural offering of Cell Phone Cinema, a course that debuted at McDaniel College in Westminster this spring.
In the course, students created their own 12-minute film. They shot the entire film using only an iPhone. No expensive cameras needed. The film was shot in high-definition. A tripod was used to reduce camera shake.
Their short, called “(ctrl)-(alt)-(delete),” follows the story of a young man who finds a cellphone in a public restroom. It debuted at Videopalooza, an annual end-of-semester film premiere at McDaniel’s Decker Auditorium where students showcased what they created.
So we’ve been watching a lot of American independent films recently. All genres, budgets ranging from $100-$10,000,000 (nevermind if we should really call that indie). For one of us, watching indie films is part of our job. When you look at a large sample of things that hang together, naturally you start to see patterns. We thought it might be fun, helpful, infuriating to list 10 things that were conspicuously absent from the sample but that we really wish weren’t. We invite you–nay, we implore you!–to add your own items to the list by dropping us a line or a comment. (Note: these 10 things have nothing to do with marketing or technology–there are more than enough of other places for thinking about filmmaking that way…). Anyway, so, here’s what we got:
Read the whole article 10 THINGS WE’D LOVE TO SEE MORE OF IN AMERICAN INDEPENDENT FILMS | F U G I T I V E | cinema.