A lawsuit over rights to the song “Happy Birthday” has been tentatively settled in a proposed deal that would place the tune in the public domain and allow those who paid to use it over the years to recoup their money.
The deal, reached before the lawsuit was set to go to trial, awaits a judge’s approval, the Los Angeles Times reported.
A group of filmmakers filed the suit in 2013, arguing that the song should be part of the public domain. The Times reported that Warner/Chappell Music had collected an estimated $2 million a year in royalties for use of the song in movies and other commercial ventures over the years.
The song, originally titled “Good Morning to All,” was written in 1893 by sisters Patty Smith Hill and Mildred J. Hill. Warner Music Group began collecting royalties for the song in 1988, after buying the company that owned the copyright to the song.
In September, Judge George H. King ruled that the copyright had expired. The ruling was appealed. The parties reached an agreement in December, but details of the settlement weren’t disclosed until Monday, the newspaper said.
Good Morning to You Productions, which filed the class-action lawsuit, argued that the copyright expired in 1921, placing the song in the public domain, CNN reported
. Good Morning to You Productions is now making a documentary about the song.
A hearing on the settlement is scheduled for March, The Hollywood Reporter noted
Twitter users seemed pleased with the settlement.
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