Copyright is for Losers

Interactive installation
Amazon parrot, custom-made software, computer

Copyright is for Losers is an art project that aims to highlight the abuse of copyright law by certain companies, which make a fortune by copyrighting well-known songs, like “Happy Birthday”. Hence, the art project consists of an Amazon parrot called Copy, who is learning copyrighted songs, and a web-page as an interface for audience, who want to participate in teaching the parrot. Since everyone knows “Happy Birthday” song by heart, we would like to give a chance to everyone to teach Copy the song by singing it through the web and sending it to the dedicated server for Copy. Thus, the idea is to facilitate collaborative teaching process.
According to the 1998 Guinness Book of World Records, “Happy Birthday to You” is the most recognized song in the English language. The melody of “Happy Birthday to You” comes from the song “Good Morning to All”, which was written and composed by American siblings Patty Hill and Mildred J. Hill in 1893. The combination of melody and lyrics in “Happy Birthday to You” first appeared in print in 1912, and probably existed even earlier. The Summy Company registered for copyright in 1935, crediting authors Preston Ware Orem and Mrs. R.R. Forman. In 1990, Warner Chappell purchased the company owning the copyright for $15 million, with the value of “Happy Birthday” estimated at $5 million. Based on the 1935 copyright registration, Warner claims that the United States copyright will not expire until 2030, and that unauthorized public performances of the song are technically illegal unless royalties are paid to it.[…] American law professor Robert Brauneis, who heavily researched the song, has expressed strong doubts that it is still under copyright. Source: Wikipedia

The artwork produced in and part of Verbeke Foundation’s collection.