CA District Court Invalidates “Happy Birthday” Copyright

Yesterday, a U.S. District Court for the Central District of California judge ruled that the long-claimed copyright in the song, “Happy Birthday” is invalid.

From the New York Times:

The decision, by Judge George H. King of United States District Court in Los Angeles, is a blow to the music publisher Warner/Chappell and its parent company, the Warner Music Group, which have controlled the song since 1988 and reportedly still collect some $2 million annually in licensing fees for it.

If the judge’s ruling stands, “Happy Birthday to You” would become part of the public domain. “Since no one else has ever claimed to own the copyright, we believe that as a practical matter, this means the song is public property,” said Mark C. Rifkin, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.



Scholarly Content from ProQuest Now Discoverable in Google Scholar

According to a press release from ProQuest, “the full text of its scholarly content – including journals and working papers – is now indexed in Google Scholar, enabling Google Scholar users to seamlessly discover and access their library’s ProQuest collections.”

Here’s more:

The collaboration between Google and ProQuest enables authenticated ProQuest users to be recognized at the ProQuest platform after they search using Google Scholar and connects them to full-text scholarly content in their libraries’ collections. Users who are not recognized are sent to a landing page with the abstract or an image of the first page, protecting all rights holders. To read full text, the users authenticate themselves using their library credentials. There is nothing for libraries to set up – the linking is seamless and automatic.

I’m a big Google Scholar user, especially when doing multidisciplinary research.  It’s a tremendous free resource for scholarly content.  I’ve long appreciated that Hein Online Law Journal Library content is discoverable via Google Scholar and am pleased that ProQuest will be now also.

Hat tip to Virtual Library Cat’s Eye View

Lenz v. Universal ruling: Fair Use must be considered…even with a dancing baby.


Today the Ninth Circuit Court ruled in favor of Stephanie Lenz in a Fair Use case that may have long-reaching consequences.

In 2007, Lenz posted a 29 second video to Youtube of her baby dancing and bouncing to the Prince song “Let’s Go Crazy”. Universal, at the time the owner of the copyright on that song, sent Youtube a request to have it removed since they claimed it violated copyright.

Now, after an extended legal tussle, the 9th circuit has come down with a pro-fair use decision,  with Circuit Judge Richard Tallman writing (for the 3-0 panel) that:

“Copyright holders cannot shirk their duty to consider in good faith and prior to sending a takedown notification – whether allegedly infringing material constitutes fair use,”

Copyright holders, following this ruling, may be held much more accountable (and perhaps legally liable) if they do not take fair use into account when issuing take-down orders. It seems that there may be a smaller amount of these orders sent out in the future if this decision holds up.

For more on the ruling and it’s potential implications, read Thomson Reuters review of the case and decision.

Click here to read or download the decision itself.


Study Identifies Gaps in the Research Sources Being Taught in Law School

Rebecca S. Trammell, Law Library Director of Stetson University College of Law has recently completed a dissertation on Technology & Legal Research: What Is Taught & What Is Used in the Practice of Law.

Using data from three sources (the 2013 ALWD Survey; a review of syllabi; and the 2014 law school legal research survey), the study asks whether law schools are instructing students in the legal research resources used by attorneys in the practice of law.

According to Trammell, the answer is no.  Here’s an excerpt from page 79:

The results of the law school legal research survey indicate significant gaps in law school instruction in state administrative law for both the attorney’s home state and other states and for state case law research for states other than the attorney’s home state. In addition, law school instruction is not focused on several tools used in law practice, specifically legal forms, legal news sources, experts, information about judges, jury verdict information, and finding and using public records. Based on the use of these resources by practicing attorneys, instruction in these areas would result in law students’ gaining more practice-ready skills.

Availability of Westlaw at UW Law Library

Please be advised that public access to Westlaw will no longer be available at the UW Law Library after August 30th.  We have cancelled our subscription to Westlaw Patron Access.  Access to Westlaw is now limited to UW Law School students, faculty, and staff.

However, LexisNexis Academic is still available at the UW Law Library as well as all of the other UW Madison campus libraries.

We are sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause.

Free Tool to Convert, Merge/Split, Compress & Unlock PDF Files

I recently discovered a new, free tool called Smallpdf that allows you to do some sophisticated PDF management that you can’t do with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

For example, with Smallpdf, you can convert your PDF into many different types of file formats, including JPG, Word, PPT, or even Excel – or from any of those formats to PDF.  You can also merge multiple PDFs into one file or, conversely, split a single PDF into multiple files.  You can also compress your file size or unlock password protected files.

Hat tip to TechBits

“Happy Birthday” Copyright Smoking Gun Unearthed by Law Librarians

Warner/Chappell Music, a subsidiary of Warner Music Group, has long claimed to own the rights to “Happy Birthday to You,” probably the most recognized English language song in the world.  However, new evidence unearthed by librarians at the University of Pittsburgh Law Library calls that claim into question.

According to PittLaw, Warner/Chappell’s claim is based on a 1935 copyright registration.  But now an earlier 1922 publication of the song has come to light.

The fourth edition of The Everyday Song Book was published in 1922 and contains lyrics for “Happy Birthday To You” without any copyright notice, which predates Warner/Chappell’s 1935 copyright registration. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the plaintiffs discovered evidence of the book, a blurry photo in Warner/Chappell’s own files, which they were given access to only three weeks ago.
Now, with the help of the Pitt Law Librarians who located an original copy of the work in their collection and provided a clean scan as evidence, the song may become free to the public.  Read more at Above the Law.
Happy Birthday song image

Recent UW Law School Faculty and Staff Scholarship

Here is the latest faculty and staff scholarship from the University of Wisconsin Law School Legal Studies Research Papers series found on SSRN.

  • “Realizing the Promise of Padilla Through a Law School/Public Defender Collaboration”
    2015 Wisconsin Law Review 339

    The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Padilla v. Kentucky thrust the issue of the immigration consequences of crime into the legal limelight. The Court held that the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of effective assistance of counsel requires defense counsel to provide their noncitizen clients with specific advice regarding immigration consequences. Deportation, the Court found, is a uniquely severe penalty that is “intimately related to the criminal process,” and that, for many noncitizens, is the most important potential consequence of the criminal process. Suddenly, defense attorneys found themselves deputized as the first line of defense against deportation for their noncitizen clients. By “plea bargain[ing] creatively,” the Padilla Court explained, counsel may be able “to craft a conviction and sentence that reduce the likelihood of deportation.” Widely hailed as a landmark decision – a “Gideon for immigrants” – Padilla’s promise has proved elusive in practice, particularly in the realm of indigent defense. Implementing Padilla has proven a daunting challenge for defender offices across the country given the complexity of the law, the lack of lawyers with the appropriate expertise, and the already stretched financial and personnel resources of indigent defense offices.

  • “Tax-Exempt Hospitals & Their Communities”
    6 Columbia Journal of Tax Law 33

    Hospitals in the U.S. have long been able to obtain exemption from federal income tax because they meet the requirement known as the standard of “community benefit.” Yet lawmakers and scholars know virtually nothing about the actual workings of tax-exempt hospitals, or about whether, how, and to what extent they deliver benefits to their communities. Within the last five years, however, IRS tax return forms have started asking hospitals to quantify these benefits, as well as to give detailed information about their financial practices with respect to their patients. These new questions coincide with new requirements for tax-exempt hospitals put in place as part of 2010’s health care reform bill, the Affordable Care Act. The new tax return data offers a first-time opportunity to evaluate the workings of tax-exempt hospitals from the perspective of both the traditional requirements for tax-exempt hospitals and the 2010 reforms of the Affordable Care Act. This Article analyzes data from all tax-exempt hospitals in the U.S. in 2012 to show that tax-exempt hospitals differ widely in their provision of community benefits (and financial practices). In particular, these activities vary systematically in relation to their different notions of “community” and the characteristics of the communities where the hospitals are located. This evidence demonstrates that tax-exempt hospitals seem to be responding to the specific needs of their own communities when allocating their resources among different community-benefit activities. The data show, in addition, that while tax-exempt hospitals are generally adopting the financial policies that Congress and the IRS are requesting, hospital financial aid policies also vary by community. These findings raise several fundamental questions for lawmakers and tax policy scholars in the era of the Affordable Care Act. In particular, the findings suggest that lawmakers need to grapple seriously with how they allow tax-exempt hospitals to define their communities. For example: is it appropriate for tax-exempt hospitals merely to benefit a narrowly defined community or should they operate in terms of a broader understanding of community? In light of the new data presented, this Article considers these questions and outlines several alternatives to the “community benefit” standard to address them.

  • “Jean Braucher’s Contracts World View”
    Arizona Law Review, Vol. 58, No. 1, 2016, Forthcoming

    Drawing from 14 contracts articles by the late Professor Jean Braucher (which are listed in the Appendix), I restate the structure of her thought about contract law. Subheadings in the article are: (1) The Law in Action; (2) Contracts are Relational, and Doctrinal Law is Marginal; (3) The Social Significance of Contract Doctrine is Largely Symbolic; (4) The Market is Not Perfect: There is Room For Regulation; (5) Government Works, but Not Always; (6) What Kind of Regulation; (7) When Cases Do Get to Appellate Courts, How Should Judges Behave?; (8) A Few Additional Observations.

  • My Time (1967-69) at the Faculty of Law, University of Dar Es Salaam”
    Zanzibar Law Yearbook, 2015, Forthcoming

    A personal account of my time (1967-69) on the Faculty of Law,University of Dar es Salaam. At the time the Faculty of Law was the only law school in Eastern Africa. The Faculty struggled with formulating a curriculum appropriate to the existing circumstances and governing political values. Ultimately the curriculum drafted was not adopted,largely because it was seen as overly influenced by expatriate members of the Faculty of Law.

  • “Transatlantic Investment Treaty Protection”
    CEPS Special Report No. 102, March 2015
    by JASON W. YACKEE et al.

    This paper presents an informal cost-benefit analysis of the inclusion of investment protection provisions, including investor-state arbitration, in an investment chapter in TTIP. The analysis is conducted from the perspective of the EU and its member states. It argues that there is little evidence to suggest that investor-state arbitration will provide the EU with meaningful benefits, such as increased foreign investment from the US. In contrast, investor-state arbitration may impose non-trivial costs, in the form of litigation expenses and reduced policy space. This is due to the huge volume of US investment that would be covered by the investment chapter, as well as the fact that an investment chapter would almost certainly give foreign investors greater rights than they currently enjoy under EU and member state law. We conclude that, from the perspective of the EU, the case for including investor-state arbitration in TTIP is weak. Although we do not conduct a cost-benefit analysis from the perspective of the US, such an analysis would likely raise similar issues.

  • “The Development of Contracts: Law in Action”
    Temple Law Review, Vol. 87, 2015, Forthcoming

    This article explains the history of the materials (long unpublished) that became the contracts casebook: Macaulay et al., Contracts: Law in Action. In the early years we worked closely with Ian Macneil, another pioneer of relational contract thinking. And we contextualized our cases, reflecting a law in action perspective. We identify five themes as providing a structure to the materials: (1) Incorporating UCC Article 2 into the contracts course; (2) Remedies first; (3) Law in Action; (4) Relational contracts; and(5) Contracts are everywhere.

  • “Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma: A Complicated Child Welfare Issue”
    37 The Guardian 1 (June 2015)

    This is a short response to a recent paper by Dr. Sandeep Narang and Dr. Christopher Greeley, in which we raise concerns about the diagnostic reliability of certain medical findings used as the basis for allegations of child abuse, particularly shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma.

  • “Engaging the Third Sovereign: The Nature, Reach, and Sources of Tribal Law”
    Wisconsin Lawyer, 47, May 2015

    This article attempts to clarify some of the confusion surrounding tribal law, which, notably, is distinct from federal Indian law. Whereas federal Indian law concerns the relationship between federal, state, and tribal governments, tribal law is the law tribes develop and apply to their members and territories. This article explores the nature of tribal government, reviews tribes’ complex relationships with federal and state governments, examines the reach of tribal law, and highlights available sources of tribal law.

The University of Wisconsin Law School, Legal Studies journal contains abstracts and papers from this institution focused on this area of scholarly research. To access all the papers in this series, please use the following URL:

A Zotero Update and work-around for the UW Catalog

2015 has been a whirlwind year of change for UW Libraries, even though most of it is not obvious to users. The campus (and entire UW system!) recently switched our library catalog platform and modified several of our web discovery tools.

Zotero, a free and very helpful citation manager used by many Law School faculty and staff, was also recently updated and changed in Firefox. Instead of seeing a book icon (or folder, journal article, etc.) in your address bar, the Zotero translator tool is now located to the far right in your Firefox browser, as indicated in the screenshot below:


To save your item (book, article, website, etc.), click on the drop-down menu and select how you want the resource to be saved. It’s an easy-to-use upgrade, but one that was rolled out somewhat quietly.

All these changes, however, have caused one part of Zotero to go on the fritz. If you try to save a book, etc. from the UW library catalog, Zotero currently cannot detect all of the information about the item and so doesn’t know that it is saving information for a book or journal. It will simply try to save them item as a webpage…which leaves a lot of useful information behind.

The UW team is aware of the problem, but it may take some time to fix it as there are so many other changes to work through at this time. In the meantime, a helpful workaround is to go to, a catalog of library materials worldwide, and locate your book, etc. there. You will be able to save your item with all of the important data and information quickly and easily.

If you have any problems or questions, feel free to contact either Kris or Bonnie and we’ll figure out a solution.

JFC Motion Would Severely Restrict Access to WI Drafting Records and other Legislative “Deliberative Materials”

Late last night, Wisconsin’s Joint Committee on Finance passed a motion (motion #999) to the Wisconsin state budget that would exempt “deliberative materials” like legislative drafting records and legislative briefings from Wisconsin’s open records laws.

From the Capital Times:

Included in the 24-page motion were five sections of proposed changes that would severely restrict access to the once-public records of the Legislature.

  • “Deliberative materials” would not be considered public records. Deliberative materials would include “communications, opinions, analyses, briefings, background information, recommendations, suggestions, drafts, correspondence about drafts, and notes, created or prepared in the process of reaching a decision concerning a policy or course of action or in the process of drafting a document or formulating an official communication.”

  • A legislator would have the right to refuse disclosure of a broad swath of communications and records.

  • All drafting files and records related to reference, drafting and research requests by the Legislative Reference Bureau would be confidential and closed to the public “at all times.”

  • No section of the state’s public records law that conflicts with a rule enacted by the Legislature could apply to a record.

  • The confidentiality requirements placed on nonpartisan legislative service agencies may not be used to prohibit an agency staff member from communicating with a staff member from another similar agency.

Drafting records are used frequently by lawyers, journalists, analysts, and by the public to gain insight into the process by which legislation is created, influenced, and passed.  Restricting access to this information would fundamentally limit the ability to conduct legislative research in Wisconsin.

The provisions, which are slated to take effect retroactively on July 1, the day before the motion was introduced and the start of the state’s fiscal year, have received harsh criticism by both left and right wing commentators.

For more, watch this video by the MacIver Institute.

The budget now moves to the full Legislature, with the Assembly scheduled to take up the budget bill on Wednesday of next week and the Senate scheduled to take it up as soon as Tuesday.

Good news! – See update from the Wisconsin State Journal, July 6th:

In the face of withering criticism, Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican leaders of the Legislature announced Saturday that a provision added to the state budget to gut the open records law “will be removed from the budget in its entirety.”

See more from the Capital Times on who was involved with the motion.