Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Happy Birthday" is Free

Only in America could the most played song in history be kept from the people and not considered public domain, until yesterday.

1922 Book Containing "Happy Birthday"
The song "Happy Birthday" had a birthday of its own yesterday as it was freed from the company which has claimed it owned the copyright and returned to the people. In a Washington Post article, 
‘Happy birthday’ to all of us: Judge gives world a gift, says song belongs to everyone, the details of the court decision are documented. 

It turns out that Warner Music may have to return millions of dollars in royalties that it has collected since it purchased what it thought was the copyright in 1988.

When looking at the image of the song in the 1922 songbook, I noted that Happy Birthday is but a verse in a song titled, "Good Morning and Birthday Song." It wasn't even a stand alone song.

Did you ever wonder why Happy Birthday was not sung at the local restaurant when someone has a birthday? It was likely because of the copyright that they came up with the less than satisfactory birthday song that they sing. I mean, who really wants to hear Happy Happy Birthday and not the classic tune?

And now that the song is squarely in the public domain where it belongs, the facade of imposters will begin falling away.

Next time I celebrate a birthday, or two, I will sing the song of the people with even a bit more gusto knowing that it is finally freed from corporate copyright and is now in the corporate domain.

Happy Birthday to all of us!

-- Bob Doan, writing from Denver, CO

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