Liner LLP's Ashley Yeargan featured in today's Daily Journal discussing a major class action against the Richmond Organization and its subsidiary Ludlow Music over whether the song "This Land is Your Land" is in the public domain:
"Songs are comprised of two separately copyrightable works — the music or melody and the lyrics. Here, Satorii alleges that the melody to “This Land” was a Baptist gospel hymn from the late 19th or early 20th century. If established, there would be no question that such melody is in the public domain. The parties’ dispute is focused instead on the history of the lyrics. Satorii’s complaint alleges that “This Land” was written by folk singer Woody Guthrie in 1940, published by him with a copyright notice in 1945 and never renewed. Under the applicable copyright statute, the copyright would have expired 28 years after publication, or 1973."