Taking the permission society seriously
Charles' post about sports broadcasts just reminded me of UnhappyBirthday.com, which encourages people to warn ASCAP and Time Warner every time they hear someone singing "Happy Birthday" in public. By overwhelming clearance departments with frivolous letters, the site's creators hope to make a statement about copyright-gone-amok.
That said, perhaps a more direct way to the same end is to borrow a page from that sports guy and encourage the public to write letters any time they anticipate singing "Happy Birthday" in the near future. So, seeing as my dad has birthday coming up, I figured I'd get the ball rolling:
ASCAP - New York
One Lincoln Plaza
New York, NY 10023
The copyright status of "Happy Birthday To You" and the law related to public performances of copyrighted works have recently been brought to my attention. I would therefore like to request permission in advance to sing "Happy Birthday" to my father at Frenchy's Original Cafe in Clearwater, Florida, on October 8, at approximately 1 pm.
My father will be turning 75 on this day and will probably be ordering the Seafood Gumbo and Fried Grouper. The rest of the party will include Charles Star, my brothers Peter and Paul, their spouses Karla and Cindee, and my mother Lynn. Five of us will be singing while my brothers merely mouth the words and smile. We expect there to be approximately 50 disinterested witnesses.
I realize this is short notice but we only recently settled the details. If there is a charge for the privilege of singing in this instance, please let me know. And, if there is, please specify whether or not the cost can be reduced by moving to another location.
I look forward to your prompt reply.
Bear in mind that when Lawrence Lessig et al. tried to license "Happy Birthday" to celebrate the Free Culture movement, they waited months to get permission. So, um, I'm not holding our breath for a reply...