The ‘Happy Birthday’ Song Is Finally Going to Enter Public Domain
Warner/Chappell has settled a lawsuit
The bafflingly long legal saga over the “Happy Birthday” song, of all things, is drawing ever-nearer to a close. For some 80 years, Warner/Chappell owned the copyright to the ubiquitous tune, but last September a California judge ruled that their claim to the song was invalid, as the original copyright filed way back in 1935 granted only the rights to one specific arrangement, not the song itself.
Warner/Chappell, who earned millions from their ownership of the song, initially vowed to challenge the ruling, but announced on Monday that they’re going to pay $14 million to end their lawsuit, Billboard reports. The settlement stipulates a final judgment and order from U.S. District Judge George H. King before the song would, officially, enter the public domain.
Billboard notes that when Warner Music Group announced its quarterly earnings last week, they blamed part of an operating loss on expenses related to the “Happy Birthday” settlement.