Good news, everyone with a birthday. Happy Birthday is no longer a copyrighted song.
U.S. District Judge George H. King found Tuesday that the song’s original copyright, obtained by the Clayton F. Summy Co. from the song’s writers and bought for $15 million in 1988 by Warner/Chappell Music Inc., only covered specific piano arrangements of the song and not its lyrics.
The basic “Happy Birthday” tune, derived from another popular children’s song, “Good Morning to All,” has long been in the public domain, and King’s decision, though it could be appealed, makes the entirety fair game for use.
And you bet it’ll be appealed. It’s been too lucrative a scam for Warner not to at least take a crack at it. I just hope the case is heard by a sane judge when the time comes.