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Today’s Music News: ‘Happy Birthday’ goes to court: Is the song under copyright or not?

Photo by Will Clayton (Creative Commons)

Is the song “Happy Birthday” a copyrighted musical composition, or is it in the public domain? The answer to that question makes a big difference to music publisher Warner/Chappell, which would like to collect royalties every time the song appears in a movie or TV show. A U.S. District Judge is currently hearing a civil suit in which plaintiffs—including filmmaker Robert Siegel, who paid $3,000 to use the song in an indie film—are arguing that the 1889 song by Patty Smith Hill and Mildred Hill has been in the public domain for decades and that Warner/Chappell no longer has the right to demand a licensing fee for use of the song. (Billboard)

Bob Dylan made a rare late-night TV appearance for the second-to-last episode of The Late Show with David Letterman. Dylan sang “The Night We Called It a Day,” which appears on his new Frank Sinatra covers album Shadows in the Night. (Rolling Stone)

Memorial and burial arrangements have been made for the late B.B. King. A public viewing of the blues legend’s remains will be held on Friday in Las Vegas, followed by private and public memorial services on Saturday. Following those services, a funeral and burial will be held in Indianola, Mississippi next week. (Billboard)

Performance artist Marina Abramovic says she was “used” by a “cruel” Jay Z when she agreed to participate in a 2013 performance of the song “Picasso Baby.” Abramovic says the hip-hop mogul agreed to help her institute in exchange for her participation, but, she says, he hasn’t lived up to that promise. (Pitchfork)

M.I.A. says she’s being “told” by an undisclosed entity that she can’t release a planned music video because the video was shot in Ivory Coast, Africa. In an angry series of tweets, the British musician suggests that there have been questions of cultural appropriation regarding the video. (Pitchfork)

Today’s Neil Young/David Crosby beef news: Crosby has apologized for calling Young’s girlfriend Darly Hannah a “purely poisonous predator.” As Crosby admitted, “Daryl Hannah never wound up in a Texas prison.” (Rolling Stone)

Kinks biopic directed by Julien Temple has reportedly cast two of its Kinks: Johnny Flynn will play Ray Davies and George Mackay will play Dave Davies. (Billboard)

As Janet Jackson prepares to release a new studio album, Billboard has tabulated her 25 biggest hits. Due to Jackson’s frequent and successful collaborations with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the bulk of her hits were made in Minnesota. The top three: “Miss You Much,” “Escapade,” and “That’s the Way Love Goes.” Read more about Jackson’s landmark album Rhythm Nation 1814.

Sam Smith‘s vocal cord surgery was a success, and the young singer-songwriter hopes to return to live performance as soon as possible. (Billboard)

Miley Cyrus‘s newest Happy Hippie backyard session is an ode to her dead fish. (Billboard)