Evidence found that Happy Birthday song older than copyright owner claims

[Read the post]


But we’ll lose the charm of the fake-birthday songs sung in chain restaurants if the real one is finally out of copyright…


Is there any precedent of a court mandating repayment of past royalties if the copyright is found to be invalid or improperly claimed?


Or fraudulently claimed!


The music is at least as old as 1896. Song Stories for the Kindergarten look on page 3. That’s the music. The lyrics were added later for Happy Birthday.


It helps if I include a link.


I wonder if they ever got around to suing Igor Stravinski?

The ‘you’ is pitched up, not down. Clearly an entirely different tune.

I wonder if there’s an archive compiling those? It would be nice, in a horrible way.


I would love love love to find a recording of a song they used to play on an Atlanta radio station geared toward the African American market. If anyone can find it, I’d be so happy, because apparently the only place it exists is tattooed in my brain and I’d like to able to hear it again. It was so fun. It was in the early 90’s that I heard this; I have no idea how long they continued the tradition.

They used to have this radio station playing in the changing rooms at my gym, and the DJs would play the birthday song every evening after listing off the names of the birthday boys and girls of the day. It was a rap song and it went:

TODAY is a SPEC-ial day
TODAY’s your birth-day
TODAy’s your birth-day

I’d really appreciate it if anyone can find it.


You know what I want to sing about the person who found this?

For he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good Fellllloooow. Which nobody can deny.




Is that in evidence? Why is a 1922 songbook the smoking-gun evidence when a 1911 version exists?

1 Like

no clue. I can’t read music, so I wouldn’t be able to recognize the tune associated with Good Morning.

1 Like

I remember looking into this a few years pack when BB first posted about the song book from the 1920s. Seemed pretty cut and dry back then that they didn’t own the copyright on the song. It sure is taking a long time for the courts to get to the bottom of this.


Here’s a cheesy alternate birthday song I used to hear on local Denver-area TV in the early 60s. The animation isn’t what I saw — I saw somebody using the sound track of this and shaking their own puppets along with it. A little swipe, perhaps.

1 Like

If we were talking about little people here, I’d say that fraudulently claiming to own something so as to gain from its sale would be egregiously tortious and possibly involve some slammer time.

In this case, we’ll probably get congress together to pass a retroactive copyright term extension and mandate additional levies on the sale of any storage media that might be used to story pirated music, to be paid to the most corrupt collecting society available.


OMG you must be psychic!

At my last job I worked on some patent applications. I spent a day with two patent lawyers learning how patent law works. I was told that the patent clerks who give the patents know very little about the industries that use the patents, they just know how to search the databases for prior patents. And similarly, the judges who try the cases are not knowledgeable either. They explained that it therefore would cost millions of dollars to try cases which to anyone else seemed totally obvious.

If you are lucky enough to squeak something through the Patent Office that anyone in the industry knows is bogus, you can make them spend a lot of money to fight your claim.

There was one patent application (these things take years to go through the application process - there’s a lot of back and forth between the applicant and the patent office before they get awarded a patent) which if it had gotten approved would have basically shut down the whole industry we worked in. We kept an eye on that one.