If you haven’t heard, a judge in the 9th Circuit has ruled that Happy Birthday, or at least the words were not transferred to the licensing company, Warner/Chappell and that the authorship of the lyrics to Happy Birthday is in question. This is a BFD in regards to copy right and could signal a shift in how copyright claims for early works are handled or it could just mean that the words for Happy Birthday will be on every major TV show in a few months. Several outlets are reporting that the lyrics are now in the public domain, but that’s not exactly what was in the judge’s opinion. Judge King suggest in his opinion that the Hill sisters who authored the original “Good Morning” to you song that Happy Birthday was based off up never asserted their copyright to the lyrics only a piano arrangement. I admit to splitting hairs here, but it’s good to be cautious with copyright. I’m also still searching for the opinion and will write a new post once I find it. I should mention this case is far from over, and this is just a district judge’s ruling. It’ll have a good year a more to work its way through the federal judicial system.
Here’s a few write ups on the case: