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Rupa Marya et al v. Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. et al - (22 Sep 2015)

Warner Music does not own rights to ‘Happy Birthday’ lyrics


Intellectual Property Rights

A United States District Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion that the Defendants did not receive copyright to the lyrics of the well-known song ‘Happy Birthday To You’. The Court held that the original authors of the song, Patty Hill, Mildred J. Hill and Jessica Hill, did not try to obtain federal copyright protection nor did they take action to prevent use of the lyrics by others, even in the song’s commercial success. It was only in 1934 that they asserted their rights to the melody contained in the song, but still not to the lyrics. The Defendants having failed to prove their ownership of the right to the lyrics of the song, only enjoyed copyright in the melody and piano arrangements in the song.


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