Settlement Reached In 'Happy Birthday' Copyright Case Some filmmakers sued for the song to be in the public domain. The lawsuit was settled, but a federal judge didn't say whether the royalties will end. The copyright dates to 1935.
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Settlement Reached In 'Happy Birthday' Copyright Case

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Settlement Reached In 'Happy Birthday' Copyright Case

Settlement Reached In 'Happy Birthday' Copyright Case

Settlement Reached In 'Happy Birthday' Copyright Case

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/459169791/459169792" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Some filmmakers sued for the song to be in the public domain. The lawsuit was settled, but a federal judge didn't say whether the royalties will end. The copyright dates to 1935.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm David Greene. There is a legal battle raging over a very controversial song.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (Singing) Happy birthday to you.

GREENE: This song is actually copyrighted. For example, movie producers who use it have to pay royalties. That does not apply to birthday parties, don't worry. But some filmmakers sued for the song to be in the public domain. That lawsuit was settled, but a federal judge did not say yesterday whether the royalties will end. That copyright dates to 1935, meaning it's 80 years old. It's MORNING EDITION.

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