Who owns the ‘Happy Birthday’ song?

Did you know that somebody does own the rights to ‘Happy Birthday?’  You didn’t?  Oh well, now you do.  The song, which is set to “Good Morning to All” was actually written by two sisters, Mildred J. Hill and Patty Smith Hill in the late 1800s.

Fast Forward a century;  Warner/Chappell, an extension of the Warner Music Group purchases Birchtree Ltd., a small company who owned the rights to ‘Happy Birthday’ for $25 million dollars.

Now the rights to ‘Happy Birthday’ are involved in legal proceedings.  Filmmaker, Jennifer Nelson, wants the song to be released into public domain.  In a lawsuit, Nelson follows the progression of the song from creation to present day.  She, at one point, even mentions that she didn’t realize at first that the song was owned by a company, and that she had assumed that it ‘belonged to everyone.’

It’s an interesting read, and more information can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/14/nyregion/lawsuit-aims-to-strip-happy-birthday-to-you-of-its-copyright.html?_r=0

So why the talk about the Birthday song?  Well, today is my best friend’s birthday!  So I thought, in honor of her, I would like up a bit about the saying ‘Happy Birthday’ and this was the first interesting thing I happened across.

I didn’t realize that ‘Happy Birthday’ was owned by a company, and I think it’s a bit silly that it is.  Everyone uses the song in just about every setting.  I can’t imagine all of the money Warner/Chappell would make off of the rights to the song if they collected from everybody who used it in any way, shape, or form.

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