'Happy Birthday' Song Now Legal for Everyone

As a part of my city council duties, I sit on a board governing the operation of the town ice arena. We recently forked over a hefty amount of cash to pay for a license from BMI, a music-rights management company, to mitigate potential fines for the public presentation of recorded music at the arena. It’s a big deal. Fines can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

In selling us on the importance of obtaining a license, our rink manager pointed out that public performance of the “Happy Birthday” song could result in a $30,000 fine. That was yesterday, this is today from The Hollywood Reporter:

The world’s most popular English-language song is potentially free from copyright after a federal judge ruled on Tuesday that filmmakers challenging Warner/Chappell Music’s hold on “Happy Birthday to You” should be granted summary judgment.

Read on at the link if you’re interested in the details. Copyright law remains an intriguing area of debate. Should copyrights remain in effect well past the lifetime of the property’s creator?