To celebrate its first birthday, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity took a moment to thumb its nose at Earthlings’ copyright laws. Curiosity, which made its dramatic landing on Mars a year ago Monday, used the motor in its soil-analysis system to play “Happy Birthday to You” to itself, a performance that normally requires a license from Warner Music.
There aren’t any loudspeakers on Curiosity, but it does have a motor that vibrates very loudly, according to The Verge. The vibrations come at very specific frequencies, and the NASA team was able to control these to produce the exact frequencies that make up “Happy Birthday.”
Warner’s copyright requires a fee for any public performance of the jingle. “Happy Birthday” is the most popular song in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records, and earns Warner an estimated $2 million in royalties every year. If you’ve ever wondered why chain restaurants each have their own version of the birthday song, it’s to avoid paying the fee.
Private performances of the song, like singing it at home, are free, so Curiosity singing it to itself on Mars might be okay. But the video of the performance posted by NASA to YouTube might be a different story.
This is just the latest act of rebellion by the young robot. In April, Curiosity took some time to draw a penis on the surface of Mars. In October, Curiosity proved its social media acumen by checking in on Foursquare.
Curiosity has also been hard at work during its first year on Mars. The rover has taken more than 36,700 pictures, driven over a mile and analyzed material from rocks. It also determined that Mars was once conducive to life. International Business Times took a look at its accomplishments here.