Happy Birthday a Lawsuit

Did you sing “Happy Birthday to you?” at a friend’s birthday party? I hope it wasn’t around a group of lawyers, because they would ruin it for you.

You see music publisher Warner/Chappell will no longer be allowed to collect licensing royalties on those who sing “Happy Birthday” in public and will pay back $14 million to those who have paid for licensing in the past.

We can still sing it in the private in our own home, but don’t invite children whose parents are attorney or lawyers.

Warner has asked for royalties from anyone who wanted to sing or play “Happy Birthday to You” — with the lyrics — as part of a profit-making enterprise. Royalties were most often collected from stage productions, television shows, movies or greeting cards.  Hopefully a small fee to use or some negotiating.

But even those who wanted to sing the song publicly as part of a business, say a restaurant owner giving out free birthday cake to patrons. You can sing “Happy Birthday to You”, because it is a public domain song and it can be sung. The rulings has passed this song to restaurants.

Hooray! You can sing it!

The song is now considered a public work and is free for everyone to use without fear of having to pay for it. However, the entertainment industry has to pay the rights to the music & lyrics to be place in the movies or TV shows. Or otherwise, make up a new happy birthday song like “Eat cake!” or “Cake by the Ocean!” – by DNCE.

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