It’s Finally Official: “Happy Birthday” Will Be in the Public Domain

If you’ve been following the strange saga of “Happy Birthday,” you’ll know that it’s been a bizarre tug-of-war involving music publisher Warner-Chappell and the rules governing the move of once-copyrighted material into the public domain.

Now, though, we seemed to have reached a resolution that should allow for the banishment of the singing of made-up birthday songs by restaurant staff. From Music Business Worldwide.

In November, a US charity called the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) filed a motion to intervene in the case.

It claimed that the song’s original author, Patty Hill, and her sister, Jessica Hill – co-founders of  had directly assigned rights to Summy Co – which would make Warner/Chappell the song’s rightful controller.

There will, however, be no appeal, or trial investigating ACEI’s claims, because Warner/Chappell has chosen to settle.

A spokesperson for the publisher told MBW: “While we respectfully disagreed with the Court’s decision, we are pleased to have now resolved this matter.”

The entire story can be found here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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