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The song “Happy Birthday” finally enters the public domain, a look at the Linux distro the Chinese government is hoping to replace Windows with, people are watching fewer season premiers this year, Pebble’s got an attractive new watch, and a cat that is absolutely up to no good.
Happy Birthday Is Now Public Domain
Have you ever wondered why TV and movie characters go out of their way to avoid singing “Happy Birthday”? It’s because the song, despite its public domain melody and culturally omnipresent lyrics, weren’t free to use. Warner Music owned the rights, and they charged everyone for the right to use them. Even restaurants avoided singing the song, for fear of a lawsuit.
But no more! U.S. District Judge George H. King has ruled that the song is in the public domain, meaning everyone is free to sing it without sending a check to Warner Music.
Eight decades later, the bogus copyright claim to "Happy Birthday" has been busted. https://t.co/3tOUq8zcBk
— EFF (@EFF) September 23, 2015
You can read more about this decision at the Washington Post, and you totally should. The case involves a former X-Games participant finding a songbook from 1922 that includes the song with no copyright information, and a lot more legal details we can’t summarize here.
What we can do, legally, is print the lyrics to Happy Birthday, without fear of reprisal:
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear reader
Happy birthday to you!
Seriously, how was that not public domain? Crazy. Perhaps the only sad thing about this entire situation is that brilliant workarounds like this aren’t necessary anymore.
The Operating System China Wants to Replace Windows
Europe isn’t exactly thrilled about big American Internet companies; turns out, neither is China. In an attempt to lessen the power of Microsoft, who makes the operating system that powers the vast majority of humanity’s personal computers, the Chinese government is pushing their own operating system: NeoKylin. Quartz tried the OS out, and you can see what they found here:
Aesthetically there’s a real Windows XP vibe, but the internals are apparently Linux-based. It uses the yum package manager, suggesting that it’s Fedora-based, but all the repositories familiar to Fedora users are blocked. Even if you get software installed, it might not run: Chrome outright refused to run (which some people might see as a compelling feature, but I digress).
There are a few more details here, including a version of Open Office skinned to more closely resemble Microsoft Office, but you should really read the Quartz piece to get the full story. It’s worthwhile.
People Are Watching Less TV
Today, an editor told me his kid had never seen a television commercial. His cartoons are all online and on Netflix. This blew my mind.
— David Harrison (@d_harrison) April 22, 2014
It’s a big week for American television companies, with a bunch of season premiers, but you’re probably too busy watching Netflix to notice. At least, that’s what really low TV ratings this week suggest, according to Business Insider.
The number of people between 18 and 24 watching TV this week is down 20 per cent against last year, which advertisers won’t be thrilled about. To make up the different, TV channels have been airing more commercials – which probably won’t help with the ratings much.
And on the cycle goes, with one exception: sports and live events. As our cord cutting cost guide shows, these are the one thing you can’t really get online. So don’t be surprised if TV ends up doing more things live.
Need an ABC special where Ahmed the clock kid builds a clock live on national TV, that's the only way I will be satisfied with this saga
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) September 22, 2015
Pebble’s New Watch Looks Pretty Nice
Remember Pebble, the Kickstarter project that made smart watches before Apple grabbed everyone’s attention? They announced a new watch yesterday.
Cards on the table: I think the Apple Watch is hideous. Not attractive at all. I wear a mechanical watch – it tells me the time, and I don’t have to worry about batteries or turning the screen on. I’m not sure I’d ever want a smart watch.
But this Pebble thing? I could see owning it. It looks great, and e-ink means no waiting for the screen – it’s just always on. More importantly, it’s round, which means I don’t cringe upon seeing it.
More cards on the table: I thought the iPad was a terrible idea that no one would buy, and until just a few months ago I did not own a smartphone. I’m not a pundit you should listen to, at all, when it comes to technology predictions or hardware recommendation, and I haven’t done a lot of research here.
But man: this new Pebble Watch looks nice. I won’t buy it, but it looks nice.
And Finally, This Cat Is Planning Something. I Just Know It.
Cats can’t be trusted; this one doubly so.
I’ll never get sick of cat videos, but this is my favorite in a while: the editing just gets me every time. Watching cat videos is good for you, too, so the dozen times I watched it before writing this article was time well spent.
Your Thoughts On Today’s Tech News
So: how will you use your new Happy Birthday freedom? Will you give China’s Linux distro a spin? Do you still watch TV on TV, or do you prefer watching TV on Netflix? Would you get a Pebble? And what evil plans do you think the cats have for us, once we let our guard down?