The Fight to Liberate the “Happy Birthday” Song, Told in a Short Documentary

You may have followed the story in the news lately–the song, “Happy Birthday to You,” has officially entered the public domain, thanks to a court battle fought by the documentary filmmaker Jennifer Nelson. The battle started years ago when Nelson was billed $1,500 to use “Happy Birthday to You” in a documentary–the price of licensing a song still under copyright. Wait, what? Flabbergasted that “the world’s most popular song,” which could be traced back to 1893, could still be under copyright, Nelson filed a class action suit against Warner/Chappell Music, the group claiming rights to “Happy Birthday.” And won.

In this new short documentary from The Guardian, Nelson tells the story of the song and her four-year struggle to give “Happy Birthday” back to the world. With a little luck, “This Land is Your Land,” will be next.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newsletter, please find it here.

If you would like to support the mission of Open Culture, consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere. You can contribute through PayPal, Patreon, and Venmo (@openculture). Thanks!

by | Permalink | Comments (1) |

Support Open Culture

We’re hoping to rely on our loyal readers rather than erratic ads. To support Open Culture’s educational mission, please consider making a donation. We accept PayPal, Venmo (@openculture), Patreon and Crypto! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.