Groundbreaking evidence has emerged that shows the song “Happy Birthday To You” was indeed in the public domain years before Warner /Chappell claimed copyright for it. The new evidence tips the scale in favor of the plaintiffs and the whole world from a notorious copyright troll and media giant that has been raking in over $2 million a year suing innocent people for using a public song.
Goodmorning To You Productions is the plaintiff in the case and filed a class action lawsuit in 2013 against Warner after the latter claimed compensation amounting to $1500 from the company’s director, Jennifer Nelson, for use of the song “Happy Birthday To You” in a documentary.
The new evidence was discovered under circumstances that have cast Warner in questionable light. Judicial protocol requires that evidence on a case be brought forward at the instigation of a suit. In this case, that would be in 2013. Both the plaintiffs and defendants had a burden to avail to the court and to each other all the evidence that would be vital and relevant to the case. This was not what happened, conveniently so for the defendants.
The plaintiffs only got to receive the new evidence after Warner gave them access to certain files barely three weeks ago. According to Warner, the documents had been held back “mistakenly.” Additionally, part of the page that forms the new evidence was blurred out, making it incomprehensible. The plaintiffs had actually to look for the original copy of the document to get to the truth. What they found out was earth shattering.
The document revealed that the song “Happy Birthday To You” had first been published in 1922, years before Warner claimed copyright and years before the supposed date Warner claims it was first published, 1935. Effectively, that means the song was in the public domain before Warner’s copyright.
The evidence also proves Warner did not issue a copyright notice for the song. Today, that would not matter but in 1927, which was the year Warner claims to have copyrighted the song, it mattered a whole lot. The copyright law functional at that time was the 1909 Copyright Act that strictly required a notice to be issued for any copyrights granted. Another nail in Warner’s coffin.
Warner has had this evidence and knowingly hidden it from the plaintiff and the court for over a year. The reason is quite simple, they knew the evidence went to prove that everything they alleged before the court was a falsehood. In some jurisdictions, that amounts to perjury and is punishable by law.
The new evidence has been submitted before the court. As the case approaches a close after a yearlong battle, all eyes will be on U.S. District judge George King to deliver a ruling that will determine the fate of the world’s most famous song.