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“Happy Birthday”, the most profitable song in history, could be out of copyright

27 mayo, 2021

Surely you have ever heard of the controversy that usually involves singing in public the now traditional Happy birthday, a song as famous as it is controversial which generates hundreds of copyright income each year. However, this could be about to change because, according to Ars Technica, the Warner / Chapell Music production company would be willing to pay 14 million dollars (about 12.3 million euros to change) to end a litigation that has already lasted decades .

The entity was facing a class action lawsuit imposed in 2013 by a group of artists and film directors who made a documentary about the song; a document in which they accused her of having been charging for more than 80 years for “something that did not belong to her”. The sum would be distributed among all those who had paid for it since 1949 and the song would become public domain.

The controversial Happy Birthday

So and although the melody of the song had been initially attributed to Mildred and Patty Hill, the latter a preschool teacher from the late nineteenth century (for whose rights Warner would have paid $ 22 million), the plaintiffs claimed that the origin of the melody went much further back and that the authorship was not duly credited to these sisters.

In this way and after this past september When US District Judge George King dismisses Warner’s copyright claim, the company has been forced to seek a solution. An agreement that he presented this Monday before a federal court in Los Angeles and that would save him from going to trial (with the risks that would imply).

About financial compensation, those who paid before 2009 would receive only 15% of the amount, while those who paid later would be reimbursed the full amount. In any case, and although both parties agree, we will have to wait for the hearing on March 14 to know the result of the process.

Other similar cases

Apart from what has been said, we cannot help wondering about some of the most lucrative songs in history; a ranking in which they sneak White christmas (1940) by Irving Berlin –with an income of 32 million euros-, You’ve Lost That Lovin ‘Feelin (1964) by Barry Mann –and 28 million collection-, Yesterday (1965) by The Beatles –and 26.5 million-, and Unchained Melody (1955) by Alex North & Hy Zaret – and 24 million euros-.

They follow him Stand By Me (1961) by Ben E King –and 23.8 million-, Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1934) by Gillespie –and 22 million-, Every Breath You Take (1983) by The Police -with 18 million-, Oh pretty woman (1965) by Roy Orbison -which has been made with 18 million-, and The Christmas song (1944) by Mel Torme – with estimated earnings of 16.7 million euros. That said, it seems that the key to success lies in writing songs about the passage of time and love, Christmas, and getting it into a movie.

Also, Happy Birthday It is not the only song that has been played by but, in our country, for example, we find some like Democracia su puta madre, Fabrichor, Lime and lemon, Find yourself a man who loves you Y Love, who have also done it. The first of them earned Pablo Hasel being sentenced for apology to terrorism, while La Banda del Tuerto had to compensate businessman Vicente Villar, for injuries to his honor.

Other wildly controversial works have been Sympathy for the Devil of the Rolling – in which they were accused of worshiping the devil, Stairway to Heaven from Zeppelin – it was also thought to contain a satanic message – Jeremy from Pearl Jam – inspired by the suicide of a young man-, Angel of death from Slayer – about Mengele’s experiments at Auschwitz – and more.

In Genbeta | This is what the European Union holds for Copyright

Images | Pixabay