Once you read this story, you have to wonder why nobody ever sued Happy Birthday before. Well, a documentary filmmaker named Jennifer Nelson just did. And what a good lawsuit!
As the NYT’s Benjamin Weiser writes:
… although Warner/Chappell claims ownership of “Happy Birthday to You,” the song was “just a public adaptation” of the original song, one of Ms. Nelson’s lawyers, Mark C. Rifkin, said in a phone interview.
“It’s a song created by the public, it belongs to the public, and it needs to go back to the public,” Mr. Rifkin said.
The entire tale makes me wonder whether every time we sing that vapid, irritating little lilt we supposedly owe something to Warner/Chappell. I mean, every time we sing “happy birthday” and videotape it, and maybe put it on YouTube, is Warner/Chappell going to come after us for royalties?
Gee, I’d be happy to ditch “happy” and come up with another tune. Wouldn’t you?