It is my middle child’s birthday today and I thought I would post this in his honor. A suit was filed this week that will likely stop Warner Music from collecting millions of dollars annually as royalties for performance of the song “Happy Birthday.” According to the plaintiff in the case, the song is indisputably in the public domain and Warner knows that. It should be interesting to read Warner’s answer to the Complaint. Maybe the waiters and waitresses in your local fern bar can embarrass you with a rousing rendition of happy birthday in the future without having to pay for the privilege.
Update: Yep. The Court held that Warner Warner-Chappell lacked valid rights to the lyrics, whether or not they remained under copyright protection, even as it collected fees to the tune of $2 million a year.