One of the small pleasures of teaching copyright law in Pittsburgh is pointing out the city’s contributions to copyright history. Fred Rogers, not a son of Pittsburgh but one of its most beloved citizens, played a small but key role in the Betamax case. And George Aiken, protagonist of Twentieth Century Music Co. v. Aiken, the case that held that playing the radio in a retail store did not constitute a public performance of the music that came out of the box, was a Pittsburgher. Back in the mid-1970s, Aiken’s was a small, local chain. I point out to my students that the 61C Cafe in Squirrel Hill, a familiar coffee shop named for a bus route, was once a George Aiken’s.
Until very recently, the last “George Aiken’s” restaurant was still operating in Downtown Pittsburgh, a throwback to the city’s steel era. But the last George Aiken’s is closing.