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Happy Birthday to Everyone! "Happy Birthday" Finally Enters Public Domain

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If you're a movie or television character, you know that singing "Happy Birthday" at a party is an expensive extravagance. While there are easy workarounds, like singing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" or making up a new song entirely, it's really just not the same as the old familiar tune. Luckily, characters will soon be able to sing the real thing, thanks to a federal ruling in Los Angeles.

On Tuesday, federal Judge George H. King ruled that Warner/Chappell Music, the group that has been raking in an estimated $2 million a year from "Happy Birthday," never really had ownership of the copyright. Warner has been charging for royalties on the song since 1988, when the company purchased Birch Tree Group, the successor to the Clayton F. Summy Co., which owned the original copyright.

Mildred and Patty Hill, creators of the original "Good Morning to All" song on which "Happy Birthday" is based, assigned their rights to their publisher, Clayton F. Summy. While the song shares the same tune and arrangement as "Happy Birthday," the lyrics are different. "Good Morning to All" has already entered the public domain, but Warner/Chappell claimed that "Happy Birthday" was still under their ownership, thanks to a copyright claim that was filed by Summy in 1935. Over the years, there has been a lot of squabbling amongst lawyers about whether "Happy Birthday" was really written by the Hill sisters, if they had abandoned their rights, and/or if the song was invented by the public. 

In yesterday's ruling, Judge King determined that Warner/Chappell only has the copyright for the arrangement of the music and not the actual tune or lyrics. As a result, the well-known song can finally enter the public domain, making it free for the public to use. 

"'Happy Birthday' is finally free after 80 years," said Randall Newman, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys in the suit.

Finally, television and movie characters can sing the song the rest of us have been singing for over 100 years.

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Notorious RBG Is Now Available in a Young Readers' Edition
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"Supreme Court Justice" and "pop culture icon" aren’t two titles that necessarily go together, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg's story has never followed a script. As the second female Justice to ever be confirmed to the Supreme Court, Ginsburg has crafted a unique resume as a sharp legal mind and a champion for gender equality on a bench that has historically lacked a woman’s perspective.

In recent years, her story found its way to Tumblr, courtesy of a law student named Shana Knizhnik. Her Notorious RBG tribute page showcased Ginsburg’s career and accomplishments in a light that any young adult could appreciate, no matter how much they knew about current events. It distilled her career down into meme-able chunks, comparing the iconic Justice to rap legend Notorious BIG. This page was eventually turned into a biography published by Dey Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.

Now, the Notorious RBG is looking to inspire an even younger generation, as HarperCollins has released a Young Readers’ Edition of the biography aimed at kids ages eight to 12. Filled with anecdotes about Ginsburg’s life, illustrations of her accomplishments, a pictorial timeline, and facts about the Supreme Court's history, this version of Notorious RBG “mixes pop culture, humor, and expert analysis for a remarkable account of the indomitable Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Heroine. Trailblazer. Pioneer,” according to the publisher.

In addition to her highly publicized triumphs behind the bench, the book also examines her adolescence in the 1930 and ‘40s, when professional opportunities for women were virtually nonexistent in many fields. Written by Shana Knizhnik and Irin Carmon, the Notorious RBG charts Ginsburg’s path from a precocious young student into one of the most influential legal minds of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The Young Readers’ Edition of Notorious RBG is available now from HarperCollins. You can also purchase it via Amazon.

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Sam Adams's New $200 Beer Might Be Illegal in Your State
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Sam Adams

If you don’t have a high tolerance, Sam Adams’s latest beer could be more of a conversation piece than anything you want to imbibe. That is, if you can even get ahold of the $200 brew at all. The 2017 release of Utopias, the beer maker's biennial barrel-aged specialty, has a staggering 28 percent alcohol-by-volume (ABV) content—making it illegal in some places in the U.S.

According to Thrillist, Utopias’s unusually high ABV makes it unwelcome in 12 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, both North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and Washington. While a typical beer is between 4 and 7 percent ABV, your average distilled spirit can be 40 percent ABV (also known as 80 proof) or more. So what's the big deal with a 28 percent ABV drink? It turns out, those states have laws limiting the strength of beer, many of them holdovers from the end of Prohibition. Sorry, Alabama beer obsessives.

Assuming you’re legally able to buy a bottle of Utopias, what can you expect? Sam Adams says it has flavors reminiscent of "dark fruit, subtle sweetness, and a deep rich malty smoothness," but the beer won’t be bubbly, according to Fortune, since at that level, the alcohol devours any CO2. You should think of it more as a fine liquor or cognac than a craft beer. And you should pour it accordingly, Sam Adams recommends, in 1-ounce servings.

The 2017 Utopias run will be limited to 13,000 bottles. The brew goes on sale for $200 in early December.

[h/t Thrillist]

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