Judge Rules That the Copyright to the “Happy Birthday” Song Is Invalid
If you want to sing "Happy Birthday to You" in a movie or TV show or technically, in a place of business, you have to pay a licensing fee to the people who own the copyright. That may be changing.
A judge has ruled that the people who have claimed ownership of the song aren't able to prove they own the rights to the lyrics. If that holds up, they could lose out on a reported $2 million in annual revenue off the song.
Nothing is finalized yet. The judgment can be appealed and it's unclear if past licensing fees would have to be returned, so those things will have to be sorted out.
The song dates back to the late 1800s, and is credited to a schoolteacher named Patty Smith Hill and her sister Mildred.