Cake, ice cream, presents, and a chorus of “Happy Birthday to You” has been a longstanding tradition for many to mark the passage of time in a person’s life. Although trivial to those who sing the song within their household, this eight note song has been the source of millions of dollars of revenue for the companies who have collected royalties from the song over the past eighty years.
In 2013 Jennifer Nelson, an independent filmmaker, intended to use the song in her documentary. She filed a putative class action against Warner/Chappell, who have claimed to hold the rights to the song since 1988. During the last two years, artists have been watching this case with great anticipation. Rights to the song could range from $1,500 to $5,000 or more for the use in films. Continue reading