23 September 2015 08:15:50 IST

No copyright on ‘Happy Birthday’, rules judge

Only musical arrangement, not lyrics, covered by copyright

For those who were operating under the assumption that the song ‘Happy Birthday’ is copyrighted, fear no more. US District Judge George H King ruled on September 22 that the music company Clayton F. Summy Co. only obtained the copyright for the tune's musical arrangement from the song's writers, and not the lyrics, according to an article by Mashable.

The lawsuit was 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., and believes 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 stated in his 43-page ruling.

According to King, the song ‘Happy Birthday’ was written by sisters Mildred Hill and Patty Hill sometime before 1893, and the full lyrics did not appear in print until 1911.

To read Mashable’s full feature on this, click here .