We told you about the legal wrestling over the use of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” in JibJab’s presidential election animated film parody.
- On Tuesday, Ludlow Music agreed to allow JibJab to distribute its film, which is based on the tune, without interference.
Also Tuesday, JibJab dropped its lawsuit against Ludlow. The settlement ended Ludlow’s copyright claims against Shockwave subsidiary AtomFilms and network provider Speedera Networks, said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which defended JibJab in the case.
Attorneys for JibJab said they have found evidence that the copyright on Guthrie’s song expired in 1973, meaning that anyone can use it for free.
“This song belongs to you and me,” quipped von Lohmann.
….JibJab’s wildly popular short film takes pokes at both President Bush and Sen. John Kerry. According to Internet statistician ComScore Media Metrix, JibJab’s online lampoon received 10.4 million unique hits during July. The animated Flash video drove an additional 8 million hits to the AtomFilms site, which hosted the piece and helped stream the movie for JibJab’s site.
The bipartisan political prank drew more than three times the number of visits as did the official campaign Web sites of the presidential candidates. [CNET]
More from the EFF:
- EFF’s investigation revealed that “This Land is Your Land” appears to have been in the public domain since the early 1970s. Woody Guthrie wrote his classic American song in 1940, when the copyright laws granted a copyright term of 28 years, renewable once for an additional 28. According to EFF, the initial copyright term was triggered when Guthrie sold his first versions of the song as sheet music in 1945. The copyright on the song then ran out when Ludlow failed to renew its registration in 1973. Ludlow believes its copyright — initially filed in 1956 and renewed in 1984 — remains valid and disputes EFF’s claims.
“We believe that Guthrie’s classic tune, ‘This Land Is Your Land,’ belongs to all of us now, just like Amazing Grace and Beethoven’s symphonies” said Fred von Lohmann, senior staff attorney with EFF. “The idea of copyright law is that, after a time, every work comes back into the hands of the public, where it can be reused, recycled, made part of new creativity without having to pay a fee or call in the lawyers. That’s a great thing, the real genius of copyright.”