“Happy Birthday to You,” often known as “Happy Birthday,” is a song that is usually performed on someone’s birthday. This is the most well-known song within the English language, as per Guinness World Records from 1998, and is preceded by “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” The fundamental lyrics of the song have been translated into at least 18 other languages. The music for “Happy Birthday to You” derives as from the tune “Good Morning to All,” which has now been credited to American sisters Patty as well as Mildred J. Hill since 1893, however the claim that they wrote the tune is debatable.
Inside the United States and the European Union, the music seems to be in the public domain. Warner Chappell Music has previously claimed copyright upon that song in the United States and received licencing payments for its usage; however, the copyright claim was deemed unlawful in 2015, and Warner Chappell consented to repay $14 million in licencing costs.
Patty Hill worked as a kindergarten principal in Louisville, Kentucky, at the Little Loomhouse, where she developed numerous teaching approaches, while her sister Mildred worked as a pianist as well as composer. The sisters chose “Good Morning to All” as a simple song for young children to sing. In 1912, the music and lyrics for “Happy Birthday to You” were published for the first time. There were no credits or copyright notes on any of the early appearances of the “Happy Birthday to You” lyrics. In 1935, the Summy Company registered copyright, naming Preston Ware Orem as well as Mrs R. R. Forman as writers. Warner/Chappell Music paid $25 million for such copyright firm in 1988, well with the worth of “Happy Birthday” estimated at $5 million. The United States copyright would not expire until 2030, according to Warner, and unlawful public performances of the music would be prohibited unless fees were paid.
The royalty for a single usage was US$700 in February 2010. According to one estimation, the song is the most successful single song in history. The song’s copyright in the European Union expired on January 1, 2017.
With the enactment of the Copyright Term Extension Act in 1998, the copyright status of “Happy Birthday to You” in the United States began to get greater attention. In the 2003 case Eldred v. Ashcroft, the Supreme Court upheld the Act, and Associate Justice Stephen Breyer highlighted “Happy Birthday to You” in his dissenting opinion. Robert Brauneis, an American law professor, conducted a considerable study on the song in 2010 and found that “it is virtually probably no longer under copyright.” In 2013, Good Morning to You Productions filed a lawsuit against Warner/Chappell for wrongfully claiming ownership of the song.
A federal judge ruled in September 2015 that Warner/copyright Chappell’s claim was invalid, noting that perhaps the copyright registration only related to a specific piano arrangement of the song, not really the lyrics or melody. Warner/Chappell agreed to a $14 million settlement in 2016, as well as the court determined “Happy Birthday to You” to be in the public domain.