Tuesday, August 03, 2004

"This land is our land ... Your song is my song..."

If you are the last person on the 'net not to have seen the This Land parody at, you should, it's funny.

The copyright threats over it are just as absurd, not as funny, but quite ironic. For one thing, as Jesse Walker points out relating the story at Reason, Woodie Guthrie wrote the song exactly to protest such property rights, including in it such lyrics as...

As I went rumbling that dusty highway
I saw a sign that said "private property"
But on the other side it didn't say nothing
This side was made for you and me

... and elsewhere used as a copyright notice...

"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."

Walker notes in a follow-up that Guthrie fully lived up to this philosophy himself in this case, taking the tune for This Land virtually note-for-note from the song When the World's on Fire, which had been recorded ten years earlier by country legends, The Carter Family.

PS: The archives at JibJab have contain some amusing things as well.