9 of the Most Shocking Copyright Controversies Ever

  • June 05, 2016
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PETA vs. Logic

In 2011 a British photographer had his camera stolen by a monkey. Said monkey took a few selfies, which the photographer would later sell. PETA took him to court because they claimed the copyright should be held by the original monkey artist. Surely we don't need to tell you how this one turned out.


Logic vs. Warner/Chappel

Everyone knows that “Happy Birthday” is protected by copyright. Publisher Warner/Chappel made millions licensing the song for movies and television. But in February '16 it was ruled that they didn't own the lyrics, just parts of the arrangement. The publisher will be paying back the money they made licensing the song in a fourteen-million dollar settlement.


RIAA vs. A Corpse

Back in 2005 the Recording Industry Artists of America were caught in a lawsuit fury as they tried desperately to crackdown on file-sharing. One of their targets was Gertrude Walton, an eighty-three year old woman who had been dead for about a year when the RIAA came a-knocking. They dropped the suit when it was revealed she hadn't even owned a computer.


John Cage vs. Mike Batt

In 2002 Mike Batt and The Planets released an album called Classical Graffiti, which contained a silent track called “One Minute Silence.” It was partially credited to John Cage, who wrote an entirely silent composition called 4'33''. Batt was sued by the owner of Cage's composition even though both songs were comprised of nothing but silence. Batt settled even though there didn't appear to be much of a case.