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US 'This Land is Your Land' lawsuit dismissed by U.S. judge

23:05  28 february  2020
23:05  28 february  2020 Source:   reuters.com

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From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters, " This Land is Your Land " may yet be for you and me. A federal judge in Manhattan has refused to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that Woody Guthrie' s classic 1940 folk song " This Land is Your Land " belongs to the public. In a Wednesday.

From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters, " This Land is Your Land " may yet be for you and me. A federal judge in Manhattan has refused to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that Woody Guthrie' s classic 1940 folk song " This Land is Your Land " belongs to the public. In a Wednesday.

By Jonathan Stempel

a group of people posing for the camera: FILE PHOTO: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders listens as Guy Forsyth performs © Reuters/Brian Snyder FILE PHOTO: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders listens as Guy Forsyth performs "This Land Is Your Land" at 2016 campaign rally in Austin

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge in Manhattan on Friday dismissed a lawsuit claiming that Woody Guthrie's iconic 1940 folk song "This Land is Your Land" belongs to the public.

U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel ruled against members of the New York band Satorii, which recorded two versions of "This Land," after the two publishers that control the song's rights agreed not to sue them for copyright infringement.

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A federal judge in Manhattan has refused to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that Woody Guthrie’ s classic 1940 folk song “ This Land is Your Land ” belongs to the In a Wednesday night decision, U . S . District Judge Deborah Batts said members of Satorii, a New York band that recorded two versions of “ This

A federal judge in Manhattan has refused to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that Woody Guthrie’ s classic 1940 folk song “ This Land is Your Land ” belongs to the public. In a Wednesday night decision, U . S . District Judge Deborah Batts said members of Satorii, a New York band that recorded two versions of

Satorii had claimed that the "This Land" melody closely resembled a Baptist gospel hymn from around the start of the 20th century, known by such titles as "Fire Song," and that any copyright to "This Land" lapsed several decades ago.

It sued the publishers Ludlow Music and The Richmond Organization in June 2016, seeking to void their copyright and establish that "This Land" was in the public domain.

In March 2019, U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts had allowed Satorii to pursue its copyright claims.

But the following month, the publishers entered a "covenant not to sue" Satorii over "This Land," and refunded a $45.50 licensing fee the band had paid to produce its versions.

Castel, who took over the case following Batts' Feb. 3 death, said the "extremely broad" covenant mooted Satorii's case, and there was no reasonable expectation the publishers might again challenge its use of "This Land."

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A federal judge in Manhattan has refused to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that Woody Guthrie’ s classic 1940 folk song “ This Land is Your Land ” belongs to Batts also dismissed several state law claims. Paul LiCalsi, a lawyer for the defendants Ludlow Music and The Richmond Organization, declined to

This treasured public land and its archeological sites, stunning canyons and iconic wildlife could be destroyed by oil companies unless we fight back now. This is the most blatant land -theft in modern history. Unless we prevail in preventing the sell-off of thousands of acreage to mining companies

"We are disappointed with the court's decision, which gave the defendants unfair veto power to stop this meritorious case from proceeding," Satorii's lawyer, Mark Rifkin, said in an email. "We are considering how best to continue to pursue these important issues."

Paul LiCalsi, a lawyer for the publishers, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Rifkin and his law firm have - through litigation -successfully moved other classic American songs into the public domain, including "Happy Birthday to You" and the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome."

Guthrie wrote "This Land" at age 27 in reaction to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," which he thought glossed over the country's wealth and land inequality, according to the Library of Congress.

The case is Saint-Amour et al v The Richmond Organization Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-04464.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler and Matthew Lewis)

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