‘Happy Birthday’ Song No Longer Under Copyright

by admin on September 24, 2015

Commercial enterprises, TV execs and film studios will all be pleased to hear the ‘Happy Birthday to you’ song has been released from its copyright. This means commercial enterprises can freely use the tune without having to pay royalties.

As the BBC reports, a court has ruled against Warner/Chappell, who have been collecting royalties since they bought the company who owned the copyright for $15million in 1988.

Previously, anyone using the song on TV, film, public performances, and technically even when sung by staff in restaurants, would have to pay Warner/Chappell for the privilege. This earned the company roughly $2 million a year.

The song was written in 1893 by Kentucky sisters Patty and Mildred Hill. The simple tune has become one of the most recognized in the world.

Company lawyers in Thailand Chaninat and Leeds have decades of experience working with businesses in Thailand, both Thai and foreign owned.

Judge George King ruled that the copyright should only apply to certain piano arrangements of the tune, and not the song itself.

The case came to court after some documentary film makers, wanting to make a film about the song but were told they would have to pay $ 1,500 to legally use it. The filmmakers argued that the tune is in the public domain.
Judge King agreed.

See the full story here.

Go here to learn about the Copyright Laws in Thailand.

Related reports:
Private Use on Musical Works, Rights of Public Performance
Taking on the Copyright Pirates in Thailand
Copyright exceptions for research, study and libraries in Thailand

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