The Monocle Culture Show

How much does it cost to play ‘Happy Birthday’?

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14 March 2016

Episode 231

29 minutes

Last month the classic song ‘Happy Birthday’ was made public domain. We use this as a springboard to discuss some of the music industry's most contentious rights cases. Meanwhile, we set out to debunk a few mysteries surrounding the recent acquisition of Vantablack – the blackest substance ever made – by the sculptor Anish Kapoor.

14 March 2016

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Chapter 1

13 minutes

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Chapter 1

How much does it cost to play ‘Happy Birthday’?

Cover art for The Monocle Culture Show

In early February the song ‘Happy Birthday’ was declared public domain after a long court battle that saw the Warner Chappell music group lose the rights to the track when their claim was deemed invalid. We use this story as a springboard to discuss some other musical misadventures concerning artists’ rights to their own compositions. Robert Bound speaks to Chris Cooke, co-founder and business editor of the ‘Complete Music Update’.

13 minutes

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Chapter 2

11 minutes


Photo: Melanie Lazarow

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Chapter 2

Is Vantablack the new black?

Cover art for The Monocle Culture Show

The art world is all riled up by the news that Anish Kapoor has acquired the artistic rights to a material called Vantablack: the blackest substance known to man, which absorbs almost all light and heat. It’s a strange material that is used in defence, aviation and technology but when applied to art plays with the ideas of colour and depth. It opens up a fascinating debate of ownership and aesthetics; we get the legal and artistic perspectives on this storm in a paint pot.

11 minutes

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