A present to everyone (except Warner)

POSTED BY Duncan Coats
06 October 2015

posted in Copyright | Caselaw

VIEWED 4978 TIMES

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Everyone loves a quiz. So what is the most commercially successful song of all time? Yesterday by John Lennon and Paul McCartney*? Stairway to Heaven? White Christmas maybe? You can have a clue. You’ve probably sung it countless times particularly to your loved ones or family members. Strangely though, it has featured relatively rarely in films, TV shows and adverts given its wild popularity.

OK, so it can’t be officially verified, but many argue that Happy Birthday is the most lucrative song of all time. However that may be about to change.

In a recent ruling, U.S. District Judge George H. King has decided that Warner Music does not in fact hold valid copyright in the famous song and that it is now entirely in the public domain. The ruling is a blow to Warner Music with the song purportedly earning an estimated USD$2m each year in royalties. The judgment is also interesting because it gives a fascinating and detailed account of the history of the song.

Given that Happy Birthday is now deemed to be entirely in the public domain, it is likely that it will feature more frequently in advertisements, films and TV shows.

Warner Music is said to be considering its next steps including whether to launch an appeal against the decision. However, in the meantime, this ruling certainly strikes the right note for film, radio, TV studios and the like.

* Paul McCartney actually wrote the song but he and John Lennon agreed to share credit for all of their songs 50/50, no matter how little or how much the other person contributed.
Image courtesy of Omar Wazir.

POSTED BY Duncan Coats
06 October 2015

posted in CopyrightCaselaw

VIEWED 4978 TIMES

PERMALINK

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