Where Were You When “Happy Birthday to You” Was Found to Be in the Public Domain?

Originally posted 2015-08-13 21:27:10. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Newly discovered evidence [according to a court filing] “proves conclusively that Happy Birthday has been in the public domain since no later than 1922.” At stake is the more than $5,000 per day—or $2 million per year—that singers, stage directors, filmmakers and advertisers currently shell out to use the [song]. – The Washington Post

My entire extended family and I—some six dozen of us, spanning four generations—were at a Joe’s Crab Shack celebrating Nana’s big 1-0-0. The wait staff was midway through a verse of the restaurant’s proprietary alternative ‘Joyful Anniversary of Your Being Born’ melody when one of the busboys—a second-year law student, I think I’d heard him mention—glanced at his phone. He must have gotten word of the court decision just then, because he signalled to the rest of the servers’ ensemble and as one they transitioned to the previously-verboten tune. It took a moment for the other relatives and me to catch on to what was happening, but when we did we joined in. More than one voice cracked—with emotion, for this was a truly momentous occasion. As it turned out, Nana herself entered the Great Public Domain in the Sky the following month—by which I mean she died—but she died with her faith in the American legal system restored, even if she never forgave Chester A. Arthur.”

– Randall W., Atlanta

“I was at home, swimming in an enormous pile of money—the royalties I’ve earned from selling eBooks of public domain works on Amazon.com. No wonder the Warner Music Group wanted to keep the most recognized song in the English language out of there. The public domain is a festering goldmine.”

– Molly M., Raleigh-Durham

“My same-sex spouse and I were preparing to play some secret same-sex Scrabble, which is no different from regular Scrabble, but still somehow unlawful where we reside. But at least we’re legally married, right?”

– Name Withheld

“If I recall correctly, I was just then being denied parole and informed by the review panel in no uncertain terms, if you’ll pardon the pun, that I would have to serve the remainder of my seven consecutive life sentences for serial contributory copyright infringement. I got the news from my lawyer, who is currently preparing my new habeas corpus motion papers.”

– Aaron V., Otisville (NY) Correctional Facility

“Believe it or not, I was dictating the text of an Executive Order exercising the federal government’s Constitutional power of eminent domain over the song, with the specific intent of taking it out of private hands and placing it into the hands of the American people. All of them. ‘Happy Birthday to You’ belongs not to a corporate person, but to the single mother working two jobs to raise three children. The song belongs to the combat veteran who risked life and limb fighting terrorism on the other side of the world and to the National Guardsperson protecting America’s helium reserve just outside Amarillo, Texas. It belongs to the brave men and women who will soon be leaving for Mars, never to return to Earth. ‘Happy Birthday to You’ belongs to you, and to me, and to every person in these United States, whether he or she has documentation or not. Fortunately, there’s now one fewer Executive Order that I need to sign. Happy birthday to all of us.”

– Barack O., Washington, D.C.

“I was rolling over in my grave.”

– Walt D., Glendale, CA