Warner clings to Happy Birthday copyright

By Julia Duke

24 June 2013 at 10:11 BST

The 'Happy Birthday' song, heard on that special day once a year, may no longer be music to your ears.

Happy birthday... if you can afford the fee

The classic song now comes at a price. For television and film purposes, a copyright licence fee applies, but a film-maker in New York is using the law to try and make it free to the public.
Warner/Chappell Music, the publishing arm of the Warner Music Group, told a documentary producer, that she would have to pay $1,500 (£955) to use the song for film purposes. According to the Guardian, the publishers are guaranteed thousands of dollars every time an entertainment entity wants to use it.


Good Morning to You Productions Corp, who made the documentary, challenged the validity of the copyright when they filed the lawsuit on 13 June. The filmmakers are asking for free use of the tune and also that previous licence fees be returned- an estimated $50m.
Unlike in Europe where the copyright for the song is going to expire in 2016, the copyright is still effective in the US until 2030, the Guardian reports.


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