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LESSON THIRTY-NINE HERE!
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In today’s lesson, entitled The Right to Sing, you will listen to a passage about how a simple little song became a household word, so to speak. You will also learn a what a copyright is and what laws protect music and other original work. Listen carefully to the passage and then answer the questions that follow. It’s always a good idea to take notes as you listen, but remember: don’t let your note-taking distract you from your listening.
The Right to Sing
Listen and Learn
Lesson Thirty-Nine PASSAGE ONLY track:
In the late 19th century, sisters Patty and Mildred Hill introduced a song called “Good Morning to All” to Patty’s kindergarten class. The children found it fun and easy to sing and loved it. In 1893, the Hill sisters published the tune in their songbook, Song Stories for Kindergarten. “Good Morning to All” caught on: teachers and students everywhere adapted it to celebrate classroom birthdays, keeping the melody but changing the lyrics to “Happy Birthday.” Today, “Happy Birthday to You” is, says the Guinness Book of World Records, the most recognized song in the English language.
You might assume that “Happy Birthday” would after all these years be free of copyright laws or legal restrictions. Most traditional songs sung in classrooms and choirs today, are, after all, “Public Domain,” making them freely available for public singing and performance. But in 1988, music company Warner/Chappell claimed to have acquired the rights to “Happy Birthday” through the Hill sisters’ publisher. Since then, Warner/Chappell has reaped the rewards of their “copyright,” earning some $2 million dollars a year by charging a fee every time the song is used in a film, television episode, advertisement, or other public performance.
What are copyrights and copyright laws? A copyright is a form of protection given to the authors or creators of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and intellectual works. Only the author or creator has the right to copy and distribute, perform, make modifications to, or display the particular piece of work in public. No one else can legally do these things without the creator’s “permission.” With works of commercial value, the laws are even more complicated. Users must not only obtain permission, but must also pay a fee, or royalty, to the creator or legal owner of the work. Music copyright, for example, stipulates that royalties must continue to be paid to the estate of the composer/lyricist for 70 years following his or her death.
Say you love the Disney movie “Frozen” and you’ve practiced singing “Let it Go” hundreds of times. Now you feel ready to let the world listen to your amazing rendition. So you post a video of yourself playing the guitar and singing the song on YouTube. By doing this, technically speaking, you are breaking the law. “Let it Go” is the creation of husband-and-wife songwriting team Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, and both are still very much alive. The song, therefore, is not public domain and won’t be for at least seventy years. Under copyright laws, the Lopez’s have the right to claim royalties for your YouTube performance. Ironically, the guitar-in-hand version you posted on YouTube becomes legally yours: no one can copy or distribute your video without your permission.
Back to “Happy Birthday.” In September 2015, US District Judge George King ruled that Warner/Chappell did not actually own the copyright to the “Happy Birthday” lyrics. The Hill sisters’ publisher had never obtained the rights, and so neither had Warner/Chappell. So as of December 9, 2015, “Happy Birthday” is public domain. Honestly speaking, the song was never in any real danger of copyright breaches when sung at private functions. But thanks to Judge King, you are now legally free to sing it to your heart’s content anywhere you want.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
Listen to Listen and Learn: Lesson Thirty-Nine LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS track:
Today’s listening comprehension questions will be TRUE/FALSE and based on FACTUAL CONTENT and LOGICAL INFERENCE. Listen to each question carefully and mark your answer. Feel free to pause the recording if you need a moment or two to think about the question.
1. “Good Morning to All” was introduced in the Hill sisters’ kindergarten class.
2. “Good Morning to All” was first published in print in 1893.
3. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, “Happy Birthday to You” is the most recognized song ever written for English children.
4. Warner/Chappell acquired the rights to the “Happy Birthday” song directly from the Hill sisters.
5. Until recently, Warner/Chappell earned $2 million every time the song “Happy Birthday” was used in a film, television episode, advertisement, or other public performance.
6. A copyright is a form of protection given to the authors or creators of literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and intellectual works.
7. Anyone can legally copy and distribute an original, copyrighted piece of work, provided it is not for commercial use.
8. Royalties are paid to the creator of an original work or to the person or organization that owns the copyright.
9. As long as you are not doing it for financial gain, it is perfectly legal for you to post a video of yourself singing “Let It Go” on YouTube.
10. In some cases, it may take more than 100 years for a song to become “public domain.”
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS and ANSWERS HERE!
You may also download the lesson in PDF format to keep for your reference.
KA WORDCAST: Listen and Learn! Lesson Thirty-Nine
KEY VOCABULARY WORDS
Be sure to listen to the Key Vocabulary bonus track. This will help you improve your understanding of the passage itself and give your vocabulary a big boost.
You might assume that “Happy Birthday” would after all these years be free of copyright laws or legal RESTRICTIONS.
In the sentence above, RESTRICTIONS is the plural form of the technical legal noun RESTRICTION, which refers to a law or rule that limits what you can legally do or what can legally happen. Regulation and constraint are some good substitutes.
A RESTRICTION that prohibits adults smoking in cars when children are present went into effect on October 1st this year.
All of Charles Dickens’s literary works are now under public domain, which means they and adaptations of them can be copied and performed by anyone without RESTRICTIONS.
A 20-miles-per-hour speed RESTRICTION is in effect on all public roads whenever there are road workers present.
More generally, RESTRICTION also means the limitation or control of someone or something, as in:
For the third summer in a row, the city has had to put RESTRICTIONS on water usage to prevent shortages.
Diets based on extreme calorie RESTRICTIONS can often cause more damage to a person’s health than being overweight.
Parents may put a child ON RESTRICTION if he or she misbehaves or breaks household rules. This usually means no watching television, no playing video games, no going out with friends. Look at the following examples for clarification.
“I’m ON RESTRICTION for two whole weeks,” Justin moaned to his friend over the phone, “so, no, I can’t go to the comic books store with you.”
“If you’re not home by 10:30, Taylor, you’ll be put ON RESTRICTION for the rest of the month!” Mom shouted as I closed the front door behind me.
Since then, Warner/Chappell has REAPED the rewards of their “copyright,” earning some $2 million dollars a year by charging a fee every time the song is used in a film, television episode, advertisement, or other public performance.
In the passage, REAP is used somewhat figuratively to mean to obtain or gain some advantage for something you have done. Acquire and receive are good synonyms, while rake in is a common informal equivalent.
Multinational companies usually only enter a market where they see the potential to REAP great profits.
Though Thomas was the star of the play, for some reason, his co-star Hector is REAPING all the publicity and praise.
I don’t see anything wrong with investors’ taking financial risks and REAPING the rewards when their investments pay off.
My grandma often jokes that she can REAP all the benefits of my company, but can then send me home to my parents when she’s had enough.
The verb REAP literally means to harvest a crop like corn or wheat.
Amish farmers have continued to REAP the land by traditional means for hundreds of years.
At last night’s community talent show, an interpretive dance troupe acted out all the activities involved in sowing a crop and REAPING it.
FYI: An old proverb states that you “REAP what you sow,” which means that you have to deal with the bad effects of something that you started. Sow, by the way, means to plant something. Don’t confuse it with “sew,” which means to make something with a needle and thread.
A copyright is a form of protection given to the authors or creators of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and INTELLECTUAL works.
The adjective INTELLECTUAL as used in the above sentence is part of the phrase INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, which is an idea, design, or other creation that someone has come up with and that is therefore protected under copyright laws. In more general use, however, INTELLECTUAL means connected with a person’s ability to think and understand things, as in:
Children in particular need constant INTELLECTUAL stimulation to keep them from becoming bored.
Ethan enjoys INTELLECTUAL hobbies such as playing chess and solving Sudoku puzzles.
Recent studies have shown that children’s INTELLECTUAL development can be damaged by poor nutrition and lack of clean drinking water.
INTELLECTUAL also describes someone who is well educated and enjoys activities that involve using the mind. The noun form is also INTELLECTUAL, as used in the last two sentences below.
Lauren is not only a great dancer and singer, but she is also very INTELLECTUAL and erudite.
“James is obviously very INTELLECTUAL, but he sometimes forgets that not all the other children in his class learn so easily,” Mr. Roberts told us at the parent-teacher meeting.
During China’s Cultural Revolution, many INTELLECTUALS were imprisoned or persecuted for expressing viewpoints that criticized the government.
My mom, who is a university professor, traveled to Mumbai, India, last week to give a speech to an audience of artists and leading INTELLECTUALS.
Only the author or creator has the right to copy and distribute, perform, make MODIFICATIONS to, or display the particular piece of work in public.
MODIFICATIONS is the plural form of the noun MODIFICATION, which refers to the act or process of changing something, often only slightly, to improve it or to make it more acceptable. Alteration, adjustment, and improvement are some words you can use in place of MODIFICATION.
“I’ve made a few minor MODIFICATIONS to your essay, but otherwise, it is very well written,” Lisa’s teacher told her.
The remake of the classic horror movie was almost exactly like the original, with only a few, almost unnoticeable MODIFICATIONS.
Before your car can be brought into this country, it will have to undergo MODIFICATIONS so that it complies with emissions regulations.
Carpenters are making MODIFICATIONS to the school’s lavatories to make them more wheel-chair accessible.
Most generally healthy people can lose weight with diet, exercise, and habit MODIFICATION.
MODIFICATION is based on the verb to MODIFY, which means to change something slightly so as to make it more suitable for a particular purpose, as in:
Rather than buying a new sound system for the school auditorium, wouldn’t it be cheaper to MODIFY the one we already have by adding newer technology?
Is it possible to MODIFY last year’s school Christmas Fair poster a little so that we can use it again this year?
Have you ever noticed that every time Annie has a new boyfriend, she MODIFIES her style of dress?
Ethnic restaurants in Japan often MODIFY their menus slightly to fit Japanese tastes.
With works of COMMERCIAL value, the laws are even more complicated. Users must not only obtain permission, but must also pay a fee, or royalty, to the creator or legal owner of the work.
When used before a noun, as in the sentence above, COMMERCIAL is an adjective that describes something that makes or aims to make money. Profitable, lucrative, and for-profit are some good synonyms.
Don’t forget that our school is first and foremost an educational and not a COMMERCIAL enterprise.
Unfortunately, for first-time director Adam, his small-budget movie was neither a COMMERCIAL nor a critical success.
Leona is the type of mom who would rather make her own baby food than buy COMMERCIAL products.
PayPal co-founder Elon Musk believes that the first COMMERCIAL round-trip flights to Mars will blast off within ten years.
Many environmentalists are concerned that the COMMERCIAL exploitation of beaches along the coast will destroy the area.
Something that is connected with the buying and selling of goods is also COMMERCIAL, as in:
An apartment in the COMMERCIAL district of the city will cost you almost twice as much as a flat just outside the city limits.
COMMERCIAL vehicles, including private taxis and buses, are not allowed in the car-pool lane during rush hour.
The adjective COMMERCIAL is sometimes used disapprovingly to describe something that is more concerned with profit and popularity than with quality or tradition. Look at these examples.
In my opinion, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter have all become too COMMERCIAL.
I find tourist areas too COMMERICAL and prefer going off the beaten path.
As a noun, a COMMERCIAL is an advertisement on the radio or on television.
These days, I record my favorite television programs so I can fast-forward through all the COMMERCIALS.
Many famous Hollywood actors appear on COMMERCIALS in Japan for all kinds of goods and services.
A lot of people look forward to the COMMERCIALS shown during the Super Bowl as much as they do to the game itself.
Honestly speaking, the song was never in any real danger of copyright BREACHES when sung at private functions.
In the sentence above, BREACHES is the plural form of the noun BREACH, which refers to the act of breaking or failing to observe a law, agreement, or particular code of conduct. Violation is the best synonym for this usage.
Eating while walking along the street or sitting on the train used to be a shocking BREACH of manners in Japan, but these days, you see it all the time.
If you miss any payments on your credit card, you will be considered in BREACH of contract.
Most medical professionals believe that handing over private information about patients to government officials is a BREACH of patient-doctor confidentiality.
A BREACH can also refer to a break in a relationship between two people or countries, as in:
The argument my sister Louise and I had last week has led to a serious BREACH in our relationship.
The founding of the Anglican Church came because of the widening BREACH between England’s monarch and the Catholic Church.
Finally, a BREACH can also be a gap in a wall, barrier, or defense, especially one made by an attacking army, strong wind, or crashing waves.
The two convicts escaped through a BREACH in the prison’s outer wall.
Government officials say the privacy clampdown is necessary because there have been numerous security BREACHES recently.
A BREACH in the dam wall would destroy tens of thousands of acres of farmland.
As a verb, BREACH means to break an agreement or to fail to keep a promise. It also means to break through something like security or police lines, as in the final sentence below.
The cease-fire agreement was BREACHED when rebels fired two missiles into a government-owned hospital.
If you BREACH your apartment lease agreement, you will be subject to heavy fines.
Earlier today, scores of angry student protestors BREACHED security and stormed into the university chancellor’s office.