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U.S. District Court Judge Rules on Happy Birthday Song

On Behalf of | Sep 23, 2015 | Uncategorized

A California U.S. District Court judge has ruled that Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.’s copyrights in the song Happy Birthday, are limited to, at most, a few piano arrangements of the song.

A California U.S. District Court judge has ruled that Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.’s copyrights in the song Happy Birthday, are limited to, at most, a few piano arrangements of the song.

The melody itself, written by sisters Mildred and Patty Hill was written in 1893 (with different lyrics and called “Good Morning to You”) and the copyright on the melody has expired. Warner/Chappell claimed it owned the copyrights on the later written lyrics, and has been collecting royalties for years. However, the Judge held that there was no evidence that the copyrights that Warner/Chappell purchased included the rights to the Happy Birthday lyrics. Thus, for now, the Happy Birthday melody and lyrics are in the public domain. Warner/Chappell could still appeal.

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