Judge Deems “Happy Birthday” Copyright Invalid

AS Editor Caine O'Rear at his sixth birthday party.

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

AS Editor Caine O'Rear at his sixth birthday party.
AS Editor Caine O’Rear at his sixth birthday party.

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Warner/Chappell’s copyright to “Happy Birthday” is invalid, saying that the publishing company’s copyright – which was originally filed in 1935 by the Clayton F. Summy Co. – only applied to a specific piano arrangement. The song will soon enter the public domain and will be free to use.  According to Warner/Chappell, the song was estimated to bring in nearly $2 million a year in royalty revenue.

The decision also allows for people who paid royalties to use the song to sue Warner/Chappell to recoup those royalties, as the copyright was invalid at the time of royalty collection.

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, a spokesman for Warner/Chappell said, “We are looking at the court’s lengthy opinion and considering our options.”

Leave a Reply

Stream Futurebirds’ Hotel Parties

AmericanaFest 2015 Finds The Groove