Tag Archives: piracy

Happy Birthday

A while ago, probably last year or this year, I read an article, probably this one, about a legal challenge to the copyright of that ever-popular song, Happy Birthday To You.

The article mentions that the lawsuit was brought by a documentary filmmaker, and presumably the long legal process will be a significant part of the movie. I can find reference to the filmmaker’s name, Jennifer Nelson, and the film production company, Good Morning to You Productions. Haven’t found either on IMDB (or rather, there are a few Jennifer Nelsons on there, but none immediately standing out as This Particular One), and regular search results yield a lot of news stories, but I didn’t spot a website for the company. Hopefully information about the film will be forthcoming, and highly visible, because right now it’s hard to find the horse’s mouth.

Anyway, if you plan to see the film, I have something to say about the rest of this post:


The above article gives a lot of details (especially if you read the lawsuit papers, which as I recall were quite interesting), and Wikipedia now gives a lot of details, including much more recent information.

Such as, a federal judge has now ruled that Happy Birthday To You is in the public domain, and no-one has ever needed to pay Warner any money for using it.

Hahahaha, one does rather enjoy Goliath getting his ass kicked, from time to time.

So Warner have been making two million dollars a year for illegitimately granting rights to use the song, for public performances, movies etc. The next time they complain about piracy, man….

When I read that article, however-many-months-ago, I was telling someone about it, and they were pooh-poohing it, even going so far as to look up the copyright status of Happy Birthday To You on Snopes to tell me that the song wasn’t in the public domain. Funnily enough, I found out the recent ruling today, from that very same person. With no reference to the previous conversation, which was, to be fair, a good forgetting-distance ago. I was glad to hear that good came from the lawsuit, so that helped me to not mind too much.

But I did check Snopes, and they now have the updated information :)