Thursday, September 5, 2013
Warner Music Wants Rights To 'Happy Birthday'
Warner Music Aims to Keep 'Happy Birthday' Away From Public Domain
With the English language's most recognized song at stake, Warner/Chappell Music is not backing down from a bold challenge. On Friday, the music publisher responded in court for the first time to a lawsuit that claims that "Happy Birthday" is in the public domain.
As first covered by The Hollywood Reporter and followed by news outlets around the world, the plaintiff in the case has traced the origins of the popular composition to a schoolteacher named Patty Smith Hill and her sister Mildred Hill in the late 19th century. The plaintiff has provided evidence that much of what we know about the song was already published by the time a copyright registration was attempted. As such, the lawsuit seeks to confirm that " 'Happy Birthday,' if there ever was a valid copyright to any part of the song, expired no later than 1921 and that if defendant Warner/Chappell owns any rights to 'Happy Birthday,' those rights are limited to the extremely narrow right to reproduce and distribute specific piano arrangements for the song published in 1935."
Of course, Warner/Chappell was going to test this assessment, and the publisher is now moving to dismiss the lawsuit. MORE HERE