A few years ago, Jack was in a men’s room in the Atlanta Airport and noticed the water faucet playing a tune when it turned on. It played the familiar “Happy Birthday To You” tune. He smiled, as he knew right away that its recommended best practice, that you wash your hands for the length of two choruses of “Happy Birthday”. As opposed to some guys he saw leaving without washing their hands at all (Eeeuww).
The next time he was in the Atlanta Airport and washing his hands, it played “Row Row Row Your Boat”. Again he smiled as he instantly picked up that Happy Birthday was a copyright protected song that required a royalty payment. “Row, Row..”, is in public domain. No royalty required.
Well a lawsuit has been filed by the producers of the new film Happy Birthday, which is about the song, “Happy Birthday To You”.They filed against Warner/Chappell Music, who claims to own the copyright to the “Happy Birthday To You” song. Warner/Chappell is the world-wide arm of Warner Music, spring from Warner Brothers. So big company, big money. Everyone previously was wary about going against them in court, so they always collected when they demanded royalty payments for recordings or performances of the song.
Not only does the lawsuit bring into question (with a lot of evidence) the authorship of the song, the various copyrights had expired or were not renewed, as required. The plaintiffs did a lot of research into this. The lawsuit is requesting that Warner/Chappell return the millions upon millions it collected.
You can read more here at http://tinyurl.com/lyprw9d. As this article from TechDirt states, it’s going to be a very interesting lawsuit.