Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you!…you know the rest…
…I am happy to say is now officially in public domain!
What is all the hubbub about?! Well, let me tell yah! Have you ever noticed when you’re in a restaurant and the servers bring a free dessert to the table for someone’s birthday and everyone sings a song? Of course you have! But what you may not have noticed is that the song is not the normal one you see above, it’s a special version that the restaurant made up to sing so that they won’t be sued for copyright infringement!
“Happy Birthday to You” was written in 1893 by Patty Hill and Mildred Hill. It is known to be the most recognized song in the English language! Pretty cool, huh?
What’s not pretty cool is that the song has been on lockdown in restaurants for celebration and I’m sure many movies have had to pay thousands of dollars to be able to sing it in them! All for a song that’s 4 sentences long?!
I’m sure you would be just as pleased as I am to know that yesterday in federal court, the judge ruled that Warner/Chappell Music does not own the rights to the song…effectively putting it into public domain!
So yeah! The birthday song that was once sooooooo expensive to use is now 100% free for the public to use! How sweet is that?!
In Judge King’s decision he said: “Because Summy Co. never acquired the rights to the Happy Birthday lyrics, Defendants, as Summy Co.’s purported successors-in-interest, do not own a valid copyright in the Happy Birthday lyrics.”
So because the lyrics were determined to not be protected by copyright, the song is now fair game! Apparently the copyright only applied to various piano arrangements.
Poor poor Warner/Chappell is now out the $2 million a year in licensing fees that they used to collect for the song, although I think they’ll still be just fine without it.
The HBD song lawsuit was filed in 2013 when the music company sued a musician who recorded the song during an event in San Francisco! Nothing would make me more regretful to celebrate a birthday for somebody than to be sued for it after the fact! Poor guy!
Public domain for “Happy Birthday to You”?! This seems like a dream to me, but I’m so glad that the most recognized song in the English language can be celebrated by all, anytime, anywhere!
Happy Birthday to you & Happy Birthday to me!