Is There A Copyright On The 'Happy Birthday' Song?

8 August 2017, 17:09

Happy Birthday
Picture: The Mystery Hour

This caller was under the impression that the 'Happy Birthday' song is owned by Disney. Is he correct?

Question

Who owns the copyright to the 'Happy Birthday' song?

Martin, Brackley

Answer

The ‘Happy birthday’ song was owned by Warner/Chapel Music until about a year ago. A film director then took the company to court after she was ordered to pay $1,500 to use the song in a documentary. She sued on the grounds that no one should be charged for use of the song. The judge ruled in the film director’s favour, stating the song should be in the public domain and ordering Warner/Chapel Music to repay the $14 million in royalties they had claimed over the years.

Hannah, Shropshire

Qualification: A music teacher.

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