Happy Birthday to All via Public Domain

A lawsuit that had challenged music publisher Warner/Chappell’s rights in its claims of copyright ownership in the lyrics to “Happy Birthday” has resulted in a settlement that requires Warner/Chappell to reimburse $14 million to licensees for fees that were paid to use the song.  As a result, the “Happy Birthday” song is now in the public domain.

Copyright is one form of intellectual property, which is intended to protect the “original authorship of the work” created.  Copyright protection can be extended to many intellectual works including musical works, literary works, film recordings, and architectural drawings.

However, in some instances the owner of the work is distinct from the creator of the work. For example, works that are created by employees within the scope of their employment are owned by the employer.  Similarly, a work created by an independent contractor for an entity or another individual is considered a “work made-for-hire” if there is an agreement between the parties that states the same. Copyrights can also be licensed or assigned. Written documentation of such transfer or licensing of intellectual property rights is critical to the transaction, and to the enforcement of your intellectual property.

Please contact Indiana intellectual property attorney Monica Edwards at medwards@kddk.com or (812) 423-3183, or contact any member of the KDDK Intellectual Property Law Practice Team for assistance with your copyright, trademark or other intellectual property needs.

About the Author

Monica Edwards

Monica E. Edwards, a Partner at Kahn, Dees, Donovan & Kahn, LLP, in Evansville, Indiana, is a member of the KDDK business, environmental, intellectual property, and real estate law practice teams. Monica’s intellectual property experience includes the registration, assignment and renewal of trademarks and copyrights. She is also frequently involved with the licensing and defense of intellectual property and the negotiation of confidentiality agreements on clients’ behalf.

Monica draws upon her scientific experience as a technical services chemist and prior environmental consultant in her practice of environmental law. Her background helps her assist clients in performing environmental due diligence, negotiating environmental settlement agreements, coordinating site clean-ups, prosecuting historical environmental insurance claims, and recovering environmental defense and indemnity costs.

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