Warner Music Pays $14M To Settle ‘Happy Birthday’ Copyright Suit, Song To Enter Public Domain


birthday“EDM Happy Birthday”, “Soulful Happy Birthday”, “Country Happy Birthday,” and of course, we need each version sung in multiple languages. You can almost hear the hard drives in home studios everywhere revving up as “Happy Birthday” enters the public domain

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happy birthdayAfter years of court battles, Warner Music, who would have made millions more if they’d held onto the copyright for a few more years, have agreed to allow the song to be place in the public domain and a multi-million payment. 

Music publisher Warner/Chappell has agreed to pay $14 million to end a lawsuit that challenged its ownership of the song “Happy Birthday To You.” The settlement stipulates that the song will now enter the public domain. 

“The judicial determination that ‘Happy Birthday’ is in the public domain also has substantial value,” states a memorandum filed with the settlement. “Because Defendants have charged for use of the Song, untold  thousands of people chose not to use the Song in their own performances and artistic works or to perform the Song in public. This has limited the number of times the Song was performed and used. After the Settlement is approved, that restraint will be removed and the Song will be performed and used far more often than it has been in the past. While there is no way to make a reliable estimate of the increase that will result, there can be no dispute that the increase will be substantial.”