'Happy Birthday to You' copyright suit - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

'Happy Birthday to You' copyright suit

Posted: Updated:

NEW YORK (AP) — A production company making a documentary about the song "Happy Birthday to You" is challenging the copyright to the famous jingle.

Good Morning To You Productions Corp., which is working on a film tentatively titled "Happy Birthday," argues in a lawsuit filed Thursday that the song should be "dedicated to public use and in the public domain." The company is seeking monetary damages and restitution of more than $5 million in licensing fees collected by Warner/Chappell Music Inc. from thousands of people and groups who've paid it licensing fees.

"More than 120 years after the melody to which the simple lyrics of Happy Birthday to You is set was first published, defendant Warner/Chappell boldly, but wrongfully and unlawfully, insists that it owns the copyright to Happy Birthday to You," the lawsuit states.

Warner/Chappell, based in Los Angeles, claims exclusive copyright to "Happy Birthday to You," which Guinness World Records has called the most famous song in the English language. The company, whose artists include Aretha Franklin, Barry Gibb, Rob Zombie, Madonna and Michael Jackson, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Good Morning To You Productions argues that evidence dating to 1893 helps show the song's copyright expired around 1921. It says four previous copyrights to the melody of the similar-sounding song "Good Morning to All," filed in 1893, 1896, 1899 and 1907, have expired or been forfeited.

The class action lawsuit says that Warner/Chappell claims the exclusive copyright to the song based on piano arrangements published in 1935 but that the copyright applies only to the piano arraignment and not to the melody or lyrics.

The film company filed the lawsuit after having to pay Warner/Chappell a $1,500 licensing fee and sign an agreement to use the song in a scene — or face a $150,000 penalty.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

  • New York State NewsNew York State NewsMore>>

  • Man arrested for road rage shooting

    Man arrested for road rage shooting

    Friday, August 1 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-08-01 13:15:13 GMT
    An upstate man is under arrest after police say he opened fire on another driver on I-84.The New York State Police say that Masey Moshref, 26, of Wappinger Falls faces a slew of felony charges after the Wednesday evening incident.At approximately 6:28 p.m., police received a 911 call from a driver who said a man driving a green Honda Accord bearing California license plates pulled alongside of his vehicle and displayed a black handgun.The victim says the man fired one shot at his vehicle, str...
    An upstate man is under arrest after police say he opened fire on another driver on I-84.The New York State Police say that Masey Moshref, 26, of Wappinger Falls faces a slew of felony charges after the Wednesday evening incident.At approximately 6:28 p.m., police received a 911 call from a driver who said a man driving a green Honda Accord bearing California license plates pulled alongside of his vehicle and displayed a black handgun.The victim says the man fired one shot at his vehicle, str...
  • Road-trip vacations that don't break the bank

    Road-trip vacations that don't break the bank

    Thursday, July 31 2014 5:37 PM EDT2014-07-31 21:37:29 GMT
    Last-minute vacations don't need to be a headache or ridiculously expensive, especially if you make it a road trip. Even if you don't have a car, renting one can be an affordable option.Lauren Lyons Cole, a personal finance contributor to TheStreet.com, has some suggestions.
    Last-minute vacations don't need to be a headache or ridiculously expensive, especially if you make it a road trip. Even if you don't have a car, renting one can be an affordable option.Lauren Lyons Cole, a personal finance contributor to TheStreet.com, has some suggestions.
  • Trench collapse traps workers

    Trench collapse traps workers

    Thursday, July 31 2014 2:56 PM EDT2014-07-31 18:56:22 GMT
    Two construction workers were rescued from a collapsed trench outside a home in Rye, N.Y. on Thursday.  Firefighters from across Westchester County responded to the scene at 15 Bradford Ave. at about noon.
    Two construction workers were rescued from a collapsed trench outside a home in Rye, N.Y. on Thursday.  Firefighters from across Westchester County responded to the scene at 15 Bradford Ave. at about noon.
Powered by WorldNow

WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
485 S. Highland St.
Memphis, TN 38111

Main Station: (901) 320-1313
Newsroom: (901) 320-1340

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices