Happy Birthday – was the copyright ever abandoned?

June 2015

Music publishing



U.S. District Judge George King wants to hear more about whether the 19th century schoolteacher who has been credited with writing “Happy Birthday to You” — the English language’s most popular song — had abandoned the copyright to the lyrics. On Monday, King directed parties involved in a fight over whether the song is copyrighted to brief him on the issue of abandonment – although its not all bad news for music publisher Warner/Chappell who make an estimated $2 million every year from the song – the Judge pointed out “the Parties would do well to bear in mind the analytical distinction between abandonment and loss of a copyright due to the failure to follow statutory formalities.”



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