You may remember a story from last month about a court decision that finally declared “Happy Birthday to You” to be in the public domain. (The back story can be found here.) Warner/Chappell, the music publishing giant, had contended that anyone who used the song for any public performance owed them royalties, despite the fact that the song had been written more than 120 years ago. A judge changed all that.
Or did he?
Warner/Chappell has filed an appeal, saying that U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California George H. King (whew!) made an error of judgement in his opinion of a copyright transfer that dates back to 1935. It’s technical, but it involves a sloppy job of copyright registration that should have no bearing on the eventual ownership of the song.