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Everyone free to sing 'Happy Birthday'

Everyone free to sing 'Happy Birthday'

The party is officially over for a music publishing company that, much to its dismay, doesn't own the copyright to “Happy Birthday to You.”

A settlement was reached on Wednesday between Warner/Chappell Music Inc. and filmmaker Jennifer Nelson's Good Morning to You Productions Corp.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the settlement is expected to resolve all issues in the case, including whether Warner/Chappell will have to pay back royalties, according to media reports.

Good Morning to You Productions, which filed a class-action complaint in 2013, was making a documentary about the 120-year-old song and paid Warner/Chappell $1,500 for rights to use the song rather than face a $150,000 penalty under the Copyright Act.

Since the lyrics to “Happy Birthday to You” are now in the public domain, royalties will no longer be collected when the song is sung in movies and TV shows, for example.

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