Most people in California sing 'Happy Birthday To You" without thinking about copyright infringement. However, the famous song has only recently been added to the public domain. On Sept. 22, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the copyright for 'Happy Birthday To You" was not valid, and the copyright owners can no longer collect royalties for the song.
After two sisters composed 'Happy Birthday To You" in the 1800s, Clayton F. Summy Co. acquired rights to the song and then sold those rights to Warner/Chappell Music Inc. in 1988. In the recent court case, the federal judge found that Summy Co. had never actually obtained the rights to the song lyrics, and no valid copyright of the lyrics ever existed. The judge's recent decision to release 'Happy Birthday To You" into the public domain was the result of a lawsuit that was filed by Good Morning to You Corp. two years before.