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Judge approves settlement in 'Happy Birthday' copyright case

June 29, 2016

A judge has approved a settlement that will put "Happy Birthday to You" in the public domain.

U.S. District Judge George King of the United States District Court, Central District of California, approved the agreement Monday. It ends the ownership claims of Warner/Chappell Music, the music publishing company that has been collecting royalties on the song for years.

The company has agreed to pay back $14 million to those who have paid licensing fees to use the song.

Last year, King ruled that the company didn't own the lyrics to the ditty, one of the best-known and most beloved songs in the world. He said the company has no right to charge for the song's use.

Warner/Chappell has said it didn't try to collect royalties from just anyone singing the song but those who use it in a commercial enterprise.

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