Copyright ownership of ‘Happy Birthday’ song is dismissed!
After recently celebrating a special attorney’s birthday here in the office I felt it was only appropriate to blog about one of the most well known songs still sung today by people all over the world. Ever notice when you celebrate a birthday at a restaurant the employees put a twist on the classic lyric and tune? Well, that is because the most common tune we all know best was thought to be under copyright protection.
On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled copyright holdings invalid and now the tune is public domain.
Music publishing house, Warner/ Chappell claimed full ownership of the popular tune and raked in an estimated $2 million a year in revenue. As if Warner Music Group doesn’t already own enough copyrights from artists such as, Beyonce,Katy Perry, Kendrick Lamar, among many others.
The original ‘Happy Birthday’ tune derived from a song titled, ‘Good Morning to All’. The song was written in 1893 by two sisters and schoolteachers, Patty Smith Hill and Mildred Hill as a morning greeting tune for their kindergarten students whom later assigned their copyright as public domain. The original copyright for the happy birthday tune only covered specific piano arrangements and not the lyrics itself.
However, since 1935 Warner/Chappell has attempted to obtain legal registration over the words and piano arrangement. As of September 22, 2015, the court claims that Warner Chappell could potentially claim ownership over the piano arrangement but never the words.