Following the protracted legal battle over the copyright in one of the world’s most famous songs – Happy Birthday To You – and the subsequent settlement, which we discussed in our previous article, the terms of the settlement agreed between the parties are now public. Although still subject to judicial approval, documents filed with the US court in February 2016 confirm that the key terms include:

  • a payment of up to US$14 million to be made by Warner/Chappell to fund repayment of royalties collected in the past for use of the Happy Birthday lyrics;
  • agreement by Warner/Chappell and the intervenors, with their separate claim to copyright, to forgo collecting further royalties for the remaining period of copyright protection; and
  • a judicial declaration that the Happy Birthday lyrics are in the public domain.

With the two most likely contenders for ownership of copyright in the lyrics agreeing to these terms, the settlement will no doubt be a welcome result for anyone thinking of using the song in the future.