Judge King rules that none of the companies that have collected royalties on Happy Birthday for the past 80 years have a valid copyright claim. The case was brought by Marya and Siegel, against Warner/Chappell, who make around two million dollars a year from royalty payments whenever the song is used. King:
The Hill sisters gave Summy Co. the rights to the melody, and the rights to piano arrangements based on the melody, but never any rights to the lyrics. Summy Co. had never acquired copyright to the song’s words.
We are looking at the court’s lengthy opinion and considering our options.