A federal judge in Los Angeles has ruled the iconic song Happy Birthday to You belongs in the public domain.
The birthday jingle was originally owned by creative music publishers Clayton F. Summy Co, generating up to $2 million dollars a year in royalties since 1935.
But the candles were blown out on Tuesday when US district judge George H. King ruled the 80-year-old copyright was invalid as it only applied to the song’s instrumental arrangement, and not the melody or the lyrics themselves.
Before the ruling, people could be charged for using the song. As news that the courts were to make a decision, netizens complained bitterly about the indignity of a copyrighted celebration song.
But now you’re free to celebrate a birthday without risking a lawsuit. And the internet went ham.
The Guardian celebrated with a star-studded compilation of the happy tune, though we’d hesitate to say that each featured “artiste” is worth listening to…
Others just took to twitter to chime in:
Now that the birthday anniversary tune is finally free, perhaps we should bask in glory.
Miss Monroe will take it from here.
– Jessica Ankomah
Top photo – fittingly, given the occasion – appears to be a widely used image in the public domain.