LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A federal judge is expected to sign off Monday on a settlement of the copyright case involving “Happy Birthday” – billed as the most recognized song in the English language – and order that the ditty be placed in the public domain for use at no charge.
In the settlement, music publisher Warner/Chappell Music agreed to end its claim of ownership and refund $14 million to end the long-running dispute over royalty rights to the tune. The money will be distributed among those who paid licensing fees to use the song during the previous five decades.
U.S. District Judge George H. King ruled last year that the song – sung at birthday parties for more than 100 years – was not legally owned by Warner/Chappell, paving the way for the settlement.
According to court records, the publisher acquired the company that previously claimed ownership of the number in 1988 for a reported $25 million. Warner/Chappell claimed that the copyright to the lyrics for the song would not expire until 2030.
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