The fight to free "Happy Birthday"

06/14/2013 | New York Times (tiered subscription model), The

The song "Happy Birthday" can trace part of its origin with the melody of 1800s song called "Good Morning to All," but retains its copyright to this day, generating $2 million annually in licensing fees for Warner Music Group. A filmmaker is suing the company seeking to have the song put in the public domain. "It's a song created by the public, it belongs to the public, and it needs to go back to the public," says Mark Rifkin, a lawyer for filmmaker Jennifer Nelson, who filed the federal lawsuit.

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