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“Happy Birthday” Song Copyright Invalidated

Posted Sep 25, 2015

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled that none of the companies that have collected royalties on the “Happy Birthday” song for the past 80 years held a valid copyright claim to the lyrics.  In the opinion, Judge King writes, “Defendants ask us to find that the Hill sisters eventually gave Sammy Co. the rights in the lyrics to exploit and protect, but this assertion has no support in the record.  The Hill sisters gave Sammy Co. the rights to the melody, and the rights to piano arrangements based on the melody, but never any rights to the lyrics”.   Read articles in the Los Angeles Times and New York Times.  Listen to the story on NPR.