Just a month ago, the world learned of the final verdict over the rights of the “Happy Birthday To You” song. Trailing a two-year long legal dispute, the court ruled out on September 15 that “Warner Music is to no longer hold the copyright of the ‘Happy Birthday’ song”, automatically putting the song in the public domain where it will be accessible by all, free of cost.
This verdict was globally well received, especially among movie producers, restaurant owners and musicians who felt they were being extorted by having to pay the licensing fees for use of the song. Now, barely a month after the verdict, on October 15, 2015, Warner/Chappell Music has filed for a review of the verdict.
Warner/Chappell Music has declared that George H. King, U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California,has “clearly erred” in his judgment with regard to a supposed copyright transfer in 1935. Treatment of copyright on the song’s lyrics was a point of focus in the verdict. The company further added, “sloppy transfer and registration should not matter in this case”, while Judge King gave his verdict on grounds that copyright registration acquired by Warner/Chappell Music from Summy Co. in 1988 did not clearly include the exact lyrics of the “Happy Birthday To You” song. This is, however, just one of the many flaws in the song’s copyright registration process.
In the event that Warner/Chappell Music manages to win back the rights to the song, they will be able to monetize it until 2030, which is an estimated added revenue amounting to USD 30 million. Whether the song falls back into the hands of Warner/Chappell Music, is a decision awaited by many who believe that the ‘Happy Birthday To You’ song belongs to the public domain.