The 'Happy Birthday' song may finally be in the public domain

A federal judge has ruled one of the most popular songs on the planet belongs in the public domain.

“Happy Birthday to You,” a song routinely heard at countless birthday celebrations, could be released from it’s copyright holder, Warner Chappel Music, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The case stems from a lawsuit filed by filmmakers who challenged Warner Chappel’s copyright claim.

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the plaintiffs should be granted summary judgement, THR’s Eriq Gardner reports. The favourable ruling means the matter is resolved without the need for a court trial.

Warner Chappel (then-called Warner Communications) spent $US25 million on a company in 1988 that owned a slate of musical compositions — one of which was the “Happy Birthday” song. The acquisition reportedly netted Warner the rights to what Guinness World Records once named the most-recognised song in the English language.

According to THR, Warner Chappel could lose somewhere around $US2 million per year in revenue on the song without the copyright, and barring any pending appeals.

Filmmakers have long griped over the cost of licensing the “Happy Birthday” song for TV and movies. Business Insider’s Jason Guerrasio explains the song’s meandering history, beginning with it’s origins dating back to Kentucky in the 1800s.

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