Weird Wire June 19: Lawsuit rages over “Happy Birthday to You”

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“Happy Birthday to You” belongs to all, lawsuit says

A lawsuit filed this week against Warner/Chappell Music Inc., claims the song used to serenade everyone from toddlers to grandparents on their birthdays belongs to the public.

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A federal court is being asked to hear arguments over song rights for “Happy Birthday” in a class action lawsuit aimed at releasing the ditty to the public domain. (Stock Photo)

The proposed class action lawsuit asks a federal court to assign the song to public domain and asks that Warner/Chappell return millions of dollars in licensing fees for reproductions and performances.

The history of the song begins with the claim that in 1893 sisters Patty and Mildred Hill wrote a song called “Good Morning to All.” According to the lawsuit, the public began singing the words to “Happy Birthday To You” soon thereafter.

A George Washington University Law School professor, Robert Brauneis, said his 2009 research looking for evidence of a copyright for a combination of the two songs did not produce evidence of its existence.

Warner/Chappell claims a series of copyright sales dating back to the Hill sisters as evidence of their legitimate ownership.

At least $2 million annually has been collected by Warner/Chappell for the song since they have claimed ownership of the copyright.

Birthday candles will be lit throughout the world today and the song will be sung without knowledge of the legal wrangling.

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Man survives salt-induced toxicity coma after drinking four cups of soy sauce during a dangerous dare. (Stock Photo)

Salt overload

A young man almost died by taking part in a soy sauce dare this week.

The unidentified 19-year-old man from Virginia drank a whole quart of soy sauce at the urging of friends during truth or dare and then spent the next three days in a coma.

According to the Journal of Emergency Medicine, the man is the first person documented to ingest so much salt and survive without lasting neurological problems.

Many soy sauces contain 225mg of salt in one teaspoon, which is 14 percent of recommended daily allowance. A quart of soy sauce would contain 192 liquid teaspoons, which would far exceed the amount of salt the human body could process safely.

Physicians warn against toxicity at these levels of consumption and fear copycat attempts.

Two Boston parking spots sell for $560,000

The Associated Press is reporting that a Boston woman paid over a half a million dollars to secure two off-street parking spaces near her home.

Parking spaces behind 298 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston are seen Friday, June 14, 2013. The two open spaces at right, front and back, were sold at auction June 13 for $560,000. (AP Photo by Michael Dwyer)
Parking spaces behind 298 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston are seen Friday, June 14, 2013. The two open spaces at right, front and back, were sold at auction June 13 for $560,000. (AP Photo by Michael Dwyer)

Lisa Blumenthal won the spots at an on-site Internal Revenue Service auction held Thursday in the city’s Back Bay neighborhood. The spots were previously seized by the IRS from a man who couldn’t pay back taxes.

Blumenthal lives in a multi-million dollar home near the parking spaces and told The Boston Globe that she wasn’t expecting the bidding to go quite so high but that the spots will come in handy for guests and workers. “It was a little more heated than I thought it would have been,” Blumenthal told The Boston Globe.

The parking spots sold for almost double the price of the median Massachusetts home of $313,000.

Sheriff: Woman chases children with chain saw

A woman in Missouri is accused of trying to frighten children by approaching them with a chain saw and covering her face with a ski mask.

Lynn Marie Herzog (Photo courtesy of AP)
Lynn Marie Herzog (AP Photo)

The Associated Press reports that Lincoln County Sheriff’s office charged Lynn Marie Herzog of Winfield, Mo., with felony harassment due to the incident.

Police were called by Patricia Manker after she saw Herzog yelling at her son and his friend and walking toward them with the mask and chain saw.

Manker and another neighbor said in a probable cause statement that the 50-year-old woman has also been seen photographing and videotaping neighborhood kids.

Herzog’s bond was set at $10,000.

Andy Binder, the local Sheriff’s department spokesman, said the chain saw was not running during the incident.

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