The copyright to the song ‘Happy Birthday to You’ had been claimed by the company Warner/Chappell Music Inc in the 1980’s. This resulted in persons who used the lyrics of the song in any public performance, without permission of the copyright owners, having to pay compensation to said owners.
In this regard, a case was brought by musicians and film-makers who were fined for using the ‘Happy Birthday to You’ song. The Court ruled that Warner/Chappell Music Inc. did not own the lyrics to the song but only the copyright which, the company had acquired in 1988 was only for specific arrangements of the music, and not the song itself.
It has been said that Warner/Chappell Music Inc. have made around two million dollars a year by charging persons and companies every time the lyrics to the song were used in a movie, television programme, advertisement or any other public performance.
The legal dispute relating to the above-mentioned copyright fees for the song ‘Happy Birthday to You’ has been settled out of court.