THE song ‘Happy Birthday to You’ is at the centre of a lawsuit, as a production company making a documentary about the famous birthday jingle is challenging its copyright.
In a lawsuit filed on Thursday, Good Morning To You Productions Corp., argues that the song ought to be “dedicated to public use and in the public domain.”
The company, which is working on a film entitled ‘Happy Birthday’ is seeking monetary damages and restitution of over £5 million in licensing fees collected by Warner/Chappell Music Inc. from thousands of people and groups who’ve paid it licensing fees.
Executive copyright to the song is claimed by Warner/Chappell.
The lawsuit states: “More than 120 years after the melody to which the simple lyrics of Happy Birthday to You is set was first published, defendant Warner/Chappell boldly, but wrongfully and unlawfully, insists that it owns the copyright to Happy Birthday to You.”
The lawsuit was filed by the film company after having to pay Warner/Chappell a $1,500 licensing fee and sign an agreement to use the song in a scene - or face a $150,000 penalty.