‘Happy Birthday’ copyright case reaches a settlement

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Congratulations! Happy Birthday To You can now appear for free in movies after firm claiming copyright over the iconic song agree to settlement.

The Happy Birthday To You song will be freely available for use in films and TV programmes after a landmark copyright case was finally settled out of court.LOS ANGELES — A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit over whether “Happy Birthday” — one of the world’s best-known songs — is owned by a music publisher who’s earned millions by enforcing its copyright. Warner/Chappell had claimed the rights to the song, but three months ago a judge ruled it only owned some musical arrangements, not the lyrics, and therefore had no right to charge for its use.

A trial was set to begin next week on calls for the publisher to return fees collected over the years for use of the song in movies and other commercial ventures. A trial scheduled for next week in Los Angeles could have finally determined if the lyrics were in the public domain – and whether the firm would have to return any of the licensing fees it collected. Jennifer Nelson, who was billed $1,500 to use “Happy Birthday to You” in a documentary she is doing on the song’s history, said she is “delighted” with the outcome of the case. “We revealed a dark side to the happy tune,” she said Wednesday. “It’s a song that everyone’s familiar with and grew up with but nobody knew that this song was copyrighted and you had to pay a license for that.” “The fact that it was illegally and wrongfully in the clutches of Warner/ Chappell really outraged people and now we’ve been able to rectify that situation. So it’s really gratifying,” she said. “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 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.

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