Lawsuit of the Day: Filmmakers Say “Happy Birthday” is in Public Domain, Sues Warner for Collecting Royalties
For more than two decades, filmmakers and video producers have paid Warner/Chappell Music licensing fees to use the “Happy Birthday” song. And for many years, the American music publishing company has claimed that the intellectual property rights to the song will remain privately owned until 2030—but maybe not for long. The filmmakers behind an upcoming documentary, tentatively titled “Happy Birthday,” has filed a lawsuit against Warner/Chappell with a huge body of evidence supporting that the the song has actually been in the public domain since the 1920s. If ruled in their favor, the music may have to return the hundreds of millions they’ve improperly charged in licensing fees since.