Annoying, this sound, isn't it? We are sorry to inform you that, as of 27 November 2003, no European company - except one - can use the first 9 notes from Beethoven's beautiful melody anymore. So we only play the first 8 notes here...
This is the strange consequence of a remarkable decision, taken by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg in the "Für Elise" case on 27 November 2003. A Dutch trademark agency ShieldMark succesfully claimed the rights on the first nine notes of "Für Elise". Weird? Well, we from LIQUA Text & Design think it's rather strange.
Which compositions will be claimed next as a trademark? In bad dreams we see other famous melodies claimed by (commercial or non profit) organizations, like:
How would Beethoven feel about this?
ShieldMark states: "Aim of the test case was to receive an answer to the question whether it was possible to register sounds as trademarks. The judgment in the Für Elise case of 27 November 2003 is clear on the subject and now constitutes applicable law in the entire European Union."
We question this strange development. We agree that NEW compositions and tunes for advertisement purpose should have the right to be 'trademarked'. Commercial composers and the companies they work for should indeed be protected.
But we do not agree that companies can 'claim' classical compositions, written ages ago, by composers without any commercial thought. Classical melodies that everybody knows should not be 'owned' by any company. The original composers did not have the intention to promote some specific company. So why would ANY company be able to claim the rights to such melodies just for themselves? Shouldn't classical music be free for anyone? Isn't it an insult to the original composer? And to the listener of classical music?
Music score (the notes) of Für Elise?
We frequently get requests for the music score (the notes) of Für Elise. Sorry, you'll have to find a good music shop or search elsewhere on the internet. Tip: try Google.com and type "furelise.+pdf". You'll find several free pdf-versions (for Acrobat Reader).
Q&A - Questions and Answers
What do you think about the Fur Elise trade mark development? Maybe we'll put your opinion on our site. (Please understand that we can not respond to all mails). Contact:
[Q: Pinar] Hello, I do not understand. Why can't we play the whole song? This is the silliest thing that I've ever heard. How could anyone limit the Fur Elise? from a suprised listener
[A: Liqua] You probably misunderstood the situation. Of course everyone can play the whole Fur Elise tune, but other European trademark companies can not use Fur Elise for their audio commercials. The limitation of the 8 notes on our protest site are just a little joke to enhance the message that we think it is a bit strange. So don't worry, for normal purposes anyone can keep playing the beautiful Beethoven piece. :-)
[Q: NYGiantsFan] Can you please send me the notes of the song i love this song and by the way the notes are for the piano.
[A: Liqua] Sorry, we don't have the notes for you. See above.
[Q: Steven] I'm interested in buying your domain name FurElise.com. How much do you ask for it?
[A: Liqua] Well, you're not the first one who is interested. It is a nice domain name, and gives nice publicity for our company LIQUA.nl. If you are really interested, send us a really serious offer, otherwise we will not respond...
[Q: TJ24] this is ridiculous ! how can a judge decide this ? the world is getting so strange
[A: Liqua] In a way we agree. It sounds as if someone is now claiming full rights to Fur Elise. But don't worry, this case is less limiting and strange than most people think. As far as we understand the situation, the only limitation is that trade mark companies are not allowed to use Fur Elise for their radio and tv commercials. Anyone else can play and use the music as before. As it should be...
[Q: Bruce D.P.] The decision appears idiotic and makes me doubt the wisdom of having a European Union. You give a few judges all that power--to whom can you then appeal? Oddly, one day before reading your news, and after a lot of research, I had chosen Fur Elise to be the music on my site (Improve-Education.org). So, will this unjust Court of Justice be able to annoy me? The law is clear. Beethoven had copyright as the creator. Once that copyright had lapsed over time, the music goes into the public domain where nobody owns or, or everybody owns it. You need some American rebelliousness. If a company tries to exploit a famous piece of music, the public should be urged to turn away from that company.
[A: Liqua] Hi Bruce, thanks for your reaction. I don't think you will have any problems with your site. As I said above, you could only expect trouble if you are another European trade mark company and start using Fur Elise for your promotion. That is only allowed for one company now. I believe that the company who claimed the trade mark, mostly did it for testing the trade mark law, not to forbid other companies to use Beethoven's piece.
To be honest: he statement in our introduction of this site is mostly 'teasing'. The trade mark laws are in fact not as restricting as we suggested above...
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This site is an initiative of LIQUA Text & Design, The Netherlands