Company celebrates Independence Day weekend by claiming it owns ‘America The Beautiful’

It’s Independence Day weekend in the United States and one firm is celebrating its freedom by sending legal notices.

Music licensing firm Rumblefish hit AdaFruit, the online maker store, for using public domain composition ‘America The Beautiful’ in its video celebrating the holiday.

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In its blog post about the incident, AdaFruit claims it receives the following message via YouTube immediately after it posted its video of an Arduino in front of an American flag:

adafruit_0059
Credit: AdaFruit/YouTube

The specific version of the song used in the clip is by the United States Navy Band.

While ‘America The Beautiful’ is public domain, it’s possible that the US Navy itself is asserting the rights to that performance, sub-contracting enforcement to Rumblefish, but it seems very unlikely.

Music and other media produced by the federal government in the United States can’t be copyrighted, however that rule only covers US domestic copyright. The government can and still does exert its copyrights internationally.

AdaFruit has disputed the claim, referring to the song’s public domain status, and contacted the Navy Band for clarity.

Rumblefish has form for claiming ownership over songs and even sounds that have nothing to do with it, including bird song and a song uploaded by the band that actually composed it. This isn’t the first time it has acted on public domain compositions either.

I’ve contacted Rumblefish to find what its rationale is here and will update this post if I receive a response.

Rumblefish claims it owns “America the Beautiful” by United States Navy Band? [AdaFruit]

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