U.S. District Judge George King approved the agreement Monday. It ends the ownership claims of Warner/Chappell Music, the music publishing company that has been collecting royalties on the song for years. LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge has approved a settlement that will put “Happy Birthday to You” in the public domain.
The company has agreed to pay back $14 million to those who have paid licensing fees to use the song.
Last year, King ruled that the company didn’t own the lyrics to the ditty, one of the best-known and most beloved songs in the world. He said the company has no right to charge for the song’s use.
Warner/Chappell has said it didn’t try to collect royalties from just anyone singing the song but those who use it in a commercial enterprise.