Get Sued for Singing Happy Birthday


Tonight's newscast informed me I can be sued for singing "Happy Birthday to You" in a restaurant or any other public place. Singing the most sung song in the world in a public place is largely considered a public performance, and as such constitutes copyright infringement against Time Warner, who owns the song.

Isn't that a kick in the head? Now I understand why many restaurants use a remixed version of the song when they bring that free desert out. Restaurants must pay for a commercial use license if they want to sing the original version to guests.

I always thought the song was sort of goofy and joined in renditions just to be a good sport. Turns out the silly little song isn't too shabby at making cheese. It brings in around $2 million a year in royalties.

Let that sink in and let's just think about this. The song's got two lyrics - "happy birthday to you" and "happy birthday dear whomever". There are a lot of other life events that could use a song of this nature.
  • Happy divorce
  • Happy parole
  • Happy boob job
  • Happy yoooooooooo!

If I could rework the music some and float these sign-o-the times tunes enough to catch on in public, I know I could look forward to early retirement. My jingles may not pull as much weight as "Happy Birthday", after all it was the first song to be sung on the moon, but I still think there's a market for them. If I can make enough for gas money, I'm in.

What other variations for "Happy Birthday" do you think might go over well?

3 Snap and Comment:

ud said...

How about "Time Warner sucks the big donnnnng to you, Time Warner sucks the big donnnnng to you..."

Or do they have copyright on the words "to" and "you" also?

YogaforCynics said...

It's true--what you'd think would be the ultimate in public domain. I think it's just the music, though, not the words.

Singing Lessons said...

Getting sued for singing happy birthday is utterly ubsurd! Funny, companies like Disney and Warner literally "stole" things like Grimms fairy tales and copywrote them when they weren't even theirs. Crazy!

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