Judge Rules Woody Guthrie's 'This Land' Does Not Belong To The Public

Tuesday, March 3rd 2020, 10:42 am

A federal judge ruled the Woody Guthrie song - "This Land is Your Land" - does not belong to you and me.

Woody Guthrie, an Oklahoma native, wrote "This Land" 80 years and it's been under copyright since 1956. And a judge has ruled the famous ballad remains copyrighted.

A band filed a lawsuit arguing the song should be in the public domain because of time, and the expiration of a copyright. But the judge disagreed, which means artists still have to pay for the right to use the song.  

Woody Guthrie Center Executive Director Deana McCloud said Guthrie's family isn't making millions from licensing the song, but they want to protect "This Land" and to control how the song is used.   

McCloud said Guthrie’s family doesn't want the song used for organizations that are against everything that Woody stood for.

“It's the message and the control of the message for the right purposes, not for money. This isn't about money. It's about making sure the songs are used for their intended purposes and to respect the intellectual property of the writers,” said McCloud.

The Woody Guthrie Center in downtown Tulsa has the handwritten lyrics for the song, which has been recorded many times by other artists.


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