Remember How “Happy Birthday” Was Declared Free? Not So Fast.

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.

Go here if you want to learn more.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ 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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