Happy Birthday? It has cost Warner Music £10 million
By Nick Allen Happy Birthday to You
MUSICIANS and film-makers who paid a licence fee to use the “Happy Birthday” song will receive a $14million (£9.7million) payout from Warner Music to end a lawsuit over rights to the world’s most popular song. The settlement unveiled at a Los Angeles court also means that the song is now in the public domain and that Warner Music Group, which had claimed copyright ownership, can no longer demand a fee for it. In 2013 a group of musicians and filmmakers sued Warner/Chappell over fees paid for commercial use of the song, including in films and greeting cards. It had been taking an estimated $2million in royalties for such use each year. The $14million will be used to refund some of those who paid fees dating back to 1949. The legal battle began when Jennifer Nelson, an independent filmmaker behind a documentary about the song, was charged $1,500 to use it. She sued and others soon jumped on the legal bandwagon. They said the settlement was “truly historic”. was written by sisters Mildred and Patty Hill in Kentucky in the 19th century.