U.S. District Judge George H. King ruled that the most famous song the the world, “Happy Birthday To You,” is not protected by copyright.

Despite Warner/Chappell Music Inc., collecting millions of dollars for the use of the song over the years, they do not not hold a valid copyright on the lyrics, the federal judge ruled Tuesday.


happy birthday to you song

King’s decision comes in a lawsuit filed two years ago by Good Morning To You Productions Corp., which is working on a documentary film tentatively titled “Happy Birthday.” The company challenged the copyright now held by Warner/Chappell Music Inc., arguing that the song should be “dedicated to public use and in the public domain.” “Because Summy Co. never acquired the rights to the ‘Happy Birthday’ lyrics, defendants, as Summy Co.’s purported successors-in-interest, do not own a valid copyright in the Happy Birthday lyrics,” King concluded in his 43-page ruling. h/t mashable

The financial implications are staggering as the lawsuit seeks monetary damages and restitution of licensing fees that Warner/Chappell had collected from thousands of people and groups who paid to use the song.