Last night I attended a talent show at the local gradeschool. Some kids danced, some played piano or guitar, heck some of them even sang. One little girl sang what is commonly know as “Happy Birthday” and that’s where the trouble began…
First off, I realized that she was publically performing the song, which is fine, I mean, I assume the little girl (or her parents) paid the neccessary royalties to allow her a public performance of the song, right?
But what happened next was unthinkable! She encourage everyone in the audience to sing along! Now, I don’t know if this kid’s royalty payment covered everyone in attendance so I sat quiet, and told my kids to do the same, expecting the ASCAP lawyers, or the Thought Police, or someone to come busting in at any minute.
Am I making this up? Am I being extreme? Let’s check with Snopes, and a page titled Happy Birthday, We’ll Sue:
…royalties are due for public performance, defined by copyright law as performances which occur “at a place open to the public, or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered.”
See? I’m not making this stuff up. Sorry, but you gotta protect yourself these days, you can’t just go around willy nilly singing “Happy Birthday” without expecting some consequences.
(Of course you shouldn’t do anything willy nilly, right?)