Knowledge Base Article: KB1965
Topic: FAQ - Content-Related Questions and Public Domain Issues

Title: Can I legally use the song "Happy Birthday To You" in my production?


Last Reviewed: Jan 06, 2012
Keywords:

Q.  Can I use the song "Happy Birthday To You" (aka "Happy Birthday") in my production legally?

A.  There is substantial controversy around Happy Birthday.  Technically it is still in copyright, however, the practicality of the matter is that there are a lot of technical issues related to the song's origin that could overturn Warner/Chappell's copyright in the song.  But it has never been litigated in recent times. Warner/Chappell has never in their 20 years of ownership of the song litigated to enforce against any unlicensed uses. Consequently we believe you will be safe to use the song within your production.  However, you would do so at your own risk, and if you want to remove any and all risk, you should also purchase an additional publishing rights license from Warner/Chappell. Or simply be prepared to purchase such a license if you use the track and Warner contacts you after the fact. 

Additional technical information from an extensive legal investigation of this song can be read online here:  

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1111624

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