A longstanding copyright dispute over public access to the birthday song was resolved late last year in favor of the song entering public domain.
A Los Angeles judge ruled invalid the copyright claim of the companies collecting royalties on the “Happy Birthday” song for the past 80 years. The LA Times reported, Warner/Chappell never had the right to charge for the song’s use, as it had been doing since 1988, when it bought Birch Tree Group, the successor to Clayton F. Summy Co., which claimed the original disputed copyright.
The paper also offered a thorough history of the controversy surrounding the song that “evolved into the well-known birthday song, with lyrics by Patty Smith Hill, and became what the Guinness World Records book has said is the most widely sung song in the English language.”
I am, of course, happy to think nothing untoward will happen to me for singing happy birthday in public. Well, not legally anyway, I cannot blame anyone who questions my enthusiastic yet often dischordant efforts.
Nevertheless, this may lead to a loss in the world of eateries. After all, the way in which all assembled waitstaff serenade a dining guest is part of a restaurant’s character.
I am clearly not alone in this theory, as I found a blog about birthday song experiences by an If You’re Wondering author, Connor, who decided Chuck E. Cheese has the best version with these lyrics:
Clap your hands!
Now stomp your feet!
You’re a Birthday Star at Chuck E. Cheese!
You’re our special guest,
We all aims to please
You’re big time, big stuff, going far
Here’s to you our Birthday Star!
Connor also checked out Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Chili’s, Texas Roadhouse and more.
Despite the silliness he finds in the derivations, I still believe that if everyone turns to the same familiar song, it will take away the flair! I am all for public access to the song, but I hope to see restaurant owners continue to strive for creativity in the ways in which they celebrate their celebrant diners.