It’s not the first time that I’ve heard the popular song, Happy Birthday To You, is actually owned by a music publishing company. Basically, anyone who wants to perform the song in public, must pay a licensing fee to them (which is why you never hear it out at restaurants when its someone’s birthday!) The fee, recently published on the internet, is $1564 for use and according to the AFP, said publishing company collects over 2 million dollars a year for the song!
For the first time, it seems there is a legal battle to have the song put back into public domain by a filmmaker, who wishes to create a documentary on the evolution of the song. The melody, originally dating back to the Hill sisters in the late 1800s, eventually became the popular Happy Birthday we all know and love today. According to the suit, the publishing company, Werner/Chappell, only has a narrow right to publish and license a specific piano arrangement of the piece that dates back to 1935.
We wish the filmmakers luck in their endeavor! They’re right – this song is American as apple pie and should belong to ALL of us!