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Happy Birthday To You, with love from Warner/ Chappell

Written by Sam O'Toole on 01 March 2016

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In September, US District Judge George H King, ruled that Warner/ Chappell do not own the lyrics to the “Happy Birthday To You” song. It was held that they only own some of the musical arrangement found within the song.

It has been estimated that the royalties generated by licensing the song to be used in TV and film bring in $2m a year, not a bad birthday present when considering the rights were brought by Warner/ Chappell for $22m in 1988.

However the presents don’t end there, Warner/ Chappell have filed a settlement with the courts agreeing to pay $14m to end the lawsuit. However, this lawsuit does not come cheap, $4.62m of the settlement will go to the legal team for their work with the rest of the $14m being used to reimburse everyone who has paid to use the song in the past, perhaps Lawdit’s favourite present!

The preliminary approval of the settlement will take place on the 14March, if the settlement is approved by George H King the song will be held to be in the public domain and therefore free to use. 

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