'Happy Birthday' lawsuit: Settlement puts song back in public domain

Courtesy of The Associated Press

Judge rules, "No You Don't," to the Warner Brothers Inc. claims of ownership for the classic song, "Happy Birthday."

LOS ANGELES -- Music publisher Warner/Chappell Music will return $14 million in fees to settle a lawsuit that challenges its claim to, "Happy Birthday," (one of the world's best-known songs).

A federal judge ruled in September that Warner/Chappell didn't own the lyrics and had no right to charge for their use.

The Los Angeles Times cites court documents released Monday that outline terms of a settlement reached in December. Under the deal, Warner/Chappell will give up its claims to the ubiquitous song and reimburse those who paid licensing fees.

The settlement was announced as a trial was set to begin. The lawsuit called on the publisher to return fees collected over the years for use of the song in movies and other commercial ventures.

The deal is tentative pending a judge's approval.


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