It’s safe to say there won’t be celebratory cakes, champagne or presents in the offices of Warner/Chappell following a ruling about its ownership of the copyright to ‘Happy Birthday’. A US court ruling appears to have nixed the publisher’s claim to the lyrics of the famous song, having acquired them from original publisher Summy Co.

The ruling is plain: “Because Summy Co. never acquired the rights to the Happy Birthday lyrics, Defendants, as Summy Co.’s purported successors-in-interest, do not own a valid copyright in the Happy Birthday lyrics.” Billboard claims that the copyright was worth $2m a year to Warner/Chappell, while noting that there may be more twists and turns ahead in court – including claims that Warner/Chappell should return “millions of dollars in licensing fees”.

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