Happy Royalties ... To Who?
June 14, 2013 at 3:23 PM (PT)
WARNER/CHAPPELL MUSIC, which claims to own the rights to "Happy Birthday," is being sued by a filmmaker who believes the song should be in public domain. A class action lawsuit filed by GOOD MORNING TO YOU PRODUCTIONS CORP. demands that the publisher return the $1,500 it charged the filmmaker to use the song in a documentary about the song -- as well as return "millions of dollars" in licensing fees to thousand of people and groups that have paid WARNER/CHAPPELL to use the song.
The plaintiff's court document traces the song's origins to 1893, when sisters MILDRED J. HILL and PATTY SMITH HILL wrote the song "Good Morning to All." The lyrics were: "Good morning to you / Good morning to you / Good morning dear children / Good morning to all." That song eventually evolved into "Happy Birthday."