“It belongs to all people”

“Happy Birthday, Mr. President “. More than half a century has passed since the charming Marilyn Monroe sang happy birthday to American President John F. Kennedy. The most recognizable song in the world is sung on every birthday. But only in September 2015, the song “Happy Birthday to You ” became public domain.

Sisters Patti and Mildred Hill invented the song melody at the end of the 19th century, first versions with a text about birthday appeared in the 1910s. In 1988, Warner Music Group acquired the rights to the song for $ 25 million. The music company all these years collected royalties for each public performance of the song, and according to some sources, their annual volume reached two million dollars.

In 2013, director Jennifer Nelson was filming a documentary about the famous song. She saw an article by attorney Robert Brownies, who considered copyright to it invalid. So, she went to court. 

In the United States, intellectual property rights is valid for 70 years. Works created in the 1920s, therefore, no longer fall under copyright law. As it turned out, in 1922, “Happy Birthday to You” was already published in the collection of compositions, with no indication of the author. “It belongs to all people,” said Jennifer Nelson. In 2015, a Los Angeles court ruled that the song  “Happy Birthday to You ” can be used freely and Warner Music Group never really had rights to the lyrics. 

It is worth noting that “Happy Birthday To You” is the most famous English song in the world and the most popular song of the twentieth century.


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