"Happy Birthday" Is Now Public Domain

Posted: Dec 9 2015, 4:54pm CST | by , in News | Latest Business News


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"Happy Birthday" is Now Public Domain
Photo Credit: Getty Images

It looks like birthdays will be saved for everyone. A settlement has been reached in a somewhat controversial lawsuit that Warner/Chappell Music filed over the copyright to the "Happy Birthday to You" (that's the name of that song?) song that will allow the song to be in public domain.

If you hadn't realized before, the "Happy Birthday" song was almost never played in movies or television shows because it was actually an owned song.

While the terms of the deal haven't been released in the paper announcing the settlement, it did put an end to a potentially troubling lawsuit filed in 2013 by filmmakers and artists who were looking for returns from the company as they charged to use the song.

Now, it will be free to use for everyone without the fear of a lawsuit.

In September 2015, a judge in Los Angeles ruled that the company did not have a copyright over the lyrics to the song.

"While we respectfully disagreed with the court's decision, we are pleased to have now resolved this matter," Warner/Chappell said in a statement.

The case initially gained fame because most people weren't aware that anyone owned the song at this point, let alone the fact that it was owned by a company.

According to Reuters, the song has a complicated history reaching back to the 1893 publication of "Good Morning to All," a children's song written by a Kentucky woman named Mildred Hill and her sister, Patty. Eventually, the melody came to be the backing track to the Happy Birthday lyrics.

The judge rules that the publisher never had the rights to the songs and, therefore, neither did Warner.

Don't worry, however, you weren't at risk of being sued. However, if the song is used for commercial purposes, like in films, then it was a problem.

The case is Good Morning To You Productions Corp et al v. Warner/Chappell Music Inc, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, No. 13-cv-4460.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/46" rel="author">Noel Diem</a>
Noel passion is to write about geek culture.




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