Woody Guthrie On Copright

Copyfight is reporting on the infringement lawsuit threatening the creators of the 2004 presidential election parody animation that’s getting all the laughs. They’re quoting TechDirt which apparently has a quote from Guthrie himself:

This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin’ it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.

[UPDATE]: Ars Technica is now reporting on the Jib Jab copyright battle. I don’t want to repeat their point, but I am happy they’re teaching me the more interesting lyrics of the song:

Often sung as a blindly patriotic cheer, the song is actually extremely political and rather critical of property rights and certain other aspects of American life. (If you ask me, it’s truly patriotic.) Some choice lyrics from the song not typically heard at your middle school’s choir performance…
[quote]As I was walkin’ – I saw a sign there
And that sign said – no tress passin’
But on the other side …. it didn’t say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!


In the squares of the city – In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office – I see my people
And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’
If this land’s still made for you and me.


[UPDATE]: Copyfight’s latest update on the Jib Jab This Land copyright battle tells us that Guthrie’s song shares the “melody, harmony, rhythm, and structure” of a few previous songs. Guthrie’s song (or 45 seconds of it) can be heard here (mp3), courtesy of the University of Virginia Library (pointer from The Importance Of…). At least Jib Jab now has the EFF in their court (punny, eh?).