Chain of Title Proves Fatal to “Happy Birthday” Copyright Claim (Guest Blog Post)

18 11 2015

Technology & Marketing Law Blog

October 5, 2015

Tyler Ochoa

“Happy Birthday” has been described as “The World’s Most Popular Song.”  It is sung almost every time that people gather to celebrate a birthday.  The “almost” in the previous sentence acknowledges that many restaurants direct their employees to sing a (usually inane) substitute, allegedly in order to avoid paying royalties to Warner/Chappell Music, which claims to own a copyright in the lyrics to “Happy Birthday.” The basis of Warner/Chappell’s claim is a copyright registration (Number E51990) made in 1935 by the Clayton F. Summy Co., a music publisher, and (allegedly) Warner/Chappell’s predecessor-in-interest.



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