CA District Court Invalidates “Happy Birthday” Copyright

Yesterday, a U.S. District Court for the Central District of California judge ruled that the long-claimed copyright in the song, “Happy Birthday” is invalid.

From the New York Times:

The decision, by Judge George H. King of United States District Court in Los Angeles, is a blow to the music publisher Warner/Chappell and its parent company, the Warner Music Group, which have controlled the song since 1988 and reportedly still collect some $2 million annually in licensing fees for it.

If the judge’s ruling stands, “Happy Birthday to You” would become part of the public domain. “Since no one else has ever claimed to own the copyright, we believe that as a practical matter, this means the song is public property,” said Mark C. Rifkin, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.