Thursday, August 26, 2004

This Land is Your Land... And My Land

For those of you who haven't been following the JibJab case, in which Ludlow music threatened suit against JibJab for using Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land, the EFF recently discovered a 1945 published version of the song (at the time, works were covered under copyright only at the time of publication, not at the time of creation, as is the case now), which would have had to have its copyright renewed in 1973 by Ludlow to maintain the copyright. Unfortunately for Ludlow, the Music company thought that it had the original publication... in 1956.

JibJab had originally filed suit against Ludlow for its threats, and enlisted the aid of the EFF, claiming that the animation was, in fact, fair use as parody, not merely of the current presidential race, but also of the ideals set forth in the song in contrast to today's. However, with the discovery of the 1945 songbook [PDF], JibJab has dropped the suit.

Now, while this is not a victory for fair use (since nearly any use of the public domain is legal), it is an interesting twist.

But, more importantly, I have an idea. I'd like to take the scan of the document, and republish/rerelease it, restored, under a Creative Commons license... once the dust has settled down a bit on the matter, of course. It would be useful, though, if anyone had an actual copy of the book, firstly to verify that the EFF scan is accurate (though I'm sure it is), and secondly, to be able to better read it (there are parts where no amount of guessing at the words will help).

So, is there anyone interested in pursuing this project with me?
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