If the plaintiff in a lawsuit against Warner/Chappel Music Inc. gets their way, you may finally enjoy a royalties-free happy birthday. Good Morning To You Productions Corp. feels that they should not have needed to pay $1500 to use the song “Happy Birthday to You” in their new documentary about it. However, if they hadn’t, they could be sued by Warner/Chappel, which has owned the rights to the song since 1998.
But, through their research for the documentary, the production company found no evidence that Warner/Chappel or the previous owners, Birch Tree Ltd. and Clayton Summy, ever actually owned the song. Sure, they’ve all at one point owned a song called “Good Morning To You” since 1893. But, there’s no copyright on that song with the lyrics to “Happy Birthday To You” because the public made that s**t up.
Let’s not get too excited, though. Even if Good Morning To You Productions wins their case, we’re pretty sure that there will be a counter-suit by the people who wrote the “When I Say ‘Happy,’ You Say ‘Birthday’” song to keep their own royalties pouring in from Applebees.