A new “Happy Birthday” boss? Charity claims it owns famous song’s copyright

13 11 2015
Ars Technica
November 12, 2015
Joe Mullin
In September, a judge ruled that music licensor Warner-Chappell doesn’t own the copyright to “Happy Birthday.” The question now seems to have become who does?

A charity called the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) has now stepped forward to say that if Warner loses the copyright, it should become the rightful owner. Earlier this week, ACEI filed court papers (PDF) asking to intervene in the copyright dispute.

ACEI has been receiving one-third of the licensing revenue Warner generates from Happy Birthday, estimated to be around $2 million per year. The charity is the sole shareholder of the Hill Foundation, an organization set up by song author Patty Hill and her sister Jessica to collect royalty revenue from the song. Royalty payments from Happy Birthday “represent a substantial portion of the Organization’s yearly budget.”


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