Happy Birthday to You
|"Happy Birthday to You"|
Candles spell out the traditional English birthday greeting
|Written by||Patty Hill
Mildred J. Hill
"Happy Birthday to You", also known more simply as "Happy Birthday", is a song that is traditionally sung to celebrate the anniversary of a person's birth. According to the 1998 Guinness Book of World Records, "Happy Birthday to You" is the most recognized song in the English language, followed by "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow". The song's base lyrics have been translated into at least 18 languages., p. 17 The melody of "Happy Birthday to You" comes from the song "Good Morning to All", which was written and composed by American siblings Patty Hill and Mildred J. Hill in 1893. Patty was a kindergarten principal in Louisville, Kentucky, developing various teaching methods at what is now the Little Loomhouse; Mildred was a pianist and composer., p. 7 The sisters created "Good Morning to All" as a song that would be easy to be sung by young children., p. 14
The combination of melody and lyrics in "Happy Birthday to You" first appeared in print in 1912, and probably existed even earlier., pp. 31–32 None of these early appearances included credits or copyright notices. The Summy Company registered for copyright in 1935, crediting authors Preston Ware Orem and Mrs. R.R. Forman. In 1990, Warner/Chappell purchased the company owning the copyright for $15 million, with the value of "Happy Birthday" estimated at $5 million. Based on the 1935 copyright registration, Warner claims that the United States copyright will not expire until 2030, and that unauthorized public performances of the song are technically illegal unless royalties are paid to it. In one specific instance in February 2010, these royalties were said to amount to $700. In the European Union, the copyright of the song will expire on December 31, 2016. The actual American copyright status of "Happy Birthday to You" began to draw more attention with the passage of the Copyright Term Extension Act in 1998. When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Act in Eldred v. Ashcroft in 2003, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer specifically mentioned "Happy Birthday to You" in his dissenting opinion. American law professor Robert Brauneis, who extensively researched the song, has expressed strong doubts that it is still under copyright.
"Good Morning to All" 
- Good morning to you,
- Good morning to you,
- Good morning, dear children,
- Good morning to all.
' (Lyrics by Patty Smith Hill.)
"Happy Birthday to You" 
Structurally, the text of the song consists of four lines, three of which are identical. Each of the three identical lines is precisely the title of the song: "Happy birthday to you!". The other line is "Happy birthday, dear _____", where the blank "_____" is replaced by the name of the person whose birthday is being celebrated, and serves to address the song to that person. For example, "Happy Birthday, dear Henry." This naturally leads to problems of scansion if the name is not two syllables with the stress on the first syllable, and a breakdown of ensemble if excessive ad hoc adjustment is required, for example if the person is known to all as "Mrs. Winterbottom."
It is often the tradition that at a birthday party, the song "Happy Birthday to You" is sung to the birthday person by the other guests gathered around. The birthday person is usually seated in front of a table where there is a birthday cake with candles that have just been lit. The number of candles is often the same as the age of the birthday person. After the song is sung (usually just once), sometimes party guests will add phrases like "And many happy returns!" or "And many more!" expressing the hope that the birthday person will enjoy a long life. The birthday person is asked to make a wish ("Make a wish!")—which is done silently—and then blow out the candles. Traditionally, the blowing out of the candles is felt to signify that the wish will come true. Once the candles have been blown out, people often will applaud, after which the first piece of the cake may be served to the birthday person. Often, after the cake has been eaten, each guest gives a gift, usually wrapped in festive paper, to the birthday person. The birthday person will then open the gifts. The opening of gifts usually concludes the ritual aspect of a birthday party.
In the United Kingdom and Australia, immediately after Happy Birthday has been sung, it is traditional for one of the guests to enthusiastically say "Hip Hip" and then for all of the other guests to join in and say "Hooray!" This is normally repeated three times.
Copyright status 
History of the song 
The origins of "Happy Birthday to You" date back to the mid-19th century, when two sisters, Patty and Mildred J. Hill, introduced the song "Good Morning to All" to Patty's kindergarten class in Kentucky. In 1893, they published the tune in their songbook Song Stories for the Kindergarten. However, many[who?] believe that the Hill sisters most likely copied the tune and lyrical idea from other popular and substantially similar nineteenth-century songs that predated theirs, including Horace Waters' "Happy Greetings to All", "Good Night to You All" also from 1858, "A Happy New Year to All" from 1875, and "A Happy Greeting to All", published 1885.
The Hill Sisters' students enjoyed their teachers' version of "Good Morning to All" so much that they began spontaneously singing it at birthday parties, changing the lyrics to "Happy Birthday". Children's Praise and Worship, edited by Andrew Byers, Bessie L. Byrum and Anna E. Koglin, published the song in 1918. In 1924, Robert Coleman included "Good Morning to All" in a songbook with the birthday lyrics as a second verse. Coleman also published "Happy Birthday" in The American Hymnal in 1933.
In 1935, "Happy Birthday to You" was copyrighted as a work for hire by Preston Ware Orem for the Summy Company, the publisher of "Good Morning to All". A new company, Birch Tree Group Limited, was formed to protect and enforce the song's copyright. In 1989, the rights to "Happy Birthday to You" and its assets were sold to Time Warner. In March 2004, Warner Music Group was sold to a group of investors led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. The company continues to insist that one cannot sing the "Happy Birthday to You" lyrics for profit without paying royalties: in 2008, Warner collected about $5000 per day ($2 million per year) in royalties for the song., pp. 4,68 This includes use in film, television, radio, anywhere open to the public, or even among a group where a substantial number of those in attendance are not family or friends of whoever is performing the song. For this reason, most restaurants or other public party venues will not allow their employees to perform the song in public, instead opting for other original songs or cheers in honor of the birthday celebrant.
In the EU, copyright lasts for the life of the author(s) plus 70 years; since Patty Hill (the last surviving author) died in 1946, the copyright in these countries will expire following December 31, 2016, if it is presumed that its copyright is valid. However, in the United States, this rule does not apply to any works published prior to 1978; copyright duration is tied exclusively to the publication date, assuming the necessary copyright notice appeared upon publication and proper renewal was filed. If these formalities were properly followed, the song would not pass into the public domain until the end of 2030, 95 years after the alleged "publication" by the authors. 
Public performances 
One of the most famous performances of "Happy Birthday to You" was Marilyn Monroe's rendition to U.S. President John F. Kennedy in May 1962. Another notable use was by comedy pianist Victor Borge, who would play the song in styles of various composers, or begin playing Moonlight Sonata, smoothly transitioning into the song.
The documentary film The Corporation states that Warner/Chappell charges up to US$10,000 for the song to appear in a film. Because of the copyright issue, filmmakers rarely show complete singalongs of "Happy Birthday" in films, either substituting the public-domain "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" or avoiding the song entirely. Before the song was copyrighted it was used freely, as in Bosko's Party, a Warner Brothers cartoon of 1932, where a chorus of animals sings it twice through. The entire song is performed in tribute to the title character of Batman Begins, a Warner Brothers film. The copyright status of "Happy Birthday to You" is directly referenced in "iMake Sam Girlier", a 2009 episode of the TV series iCarly, in which a character begins to sing the song but is prevented from doing so by another character who points out the song isn't public domain; "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" is then sung instead. The copyright is also referenced frequently in a Disney A.N.T. Farm episode where characters repeatedly try to sing the song, only to be stopped by others reminding them of the price. The melody of the song is also featured in The Wrong Trousers but was replaced with "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" for DVD releases. The use of the song is a problem even if it's sung in a made up language, as a Klingon-language version was nixed in pre-production from the 7th season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called "Parallels", replaced with "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" in Klingon. On the TV show Futurama they poke fun at the song and its copyright by making their own version with the lyric's "What day is today? It's (birthday person)'s Birthday, What a great day for a Birthday, Let's all have some cake."
In the 1987 documentary Eyes on the Prize about the US Civil Rights Movement, there was a birthday party scene in which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s discouragement began to lift. After its initial release, the film was unavailable for sale or broadcast for many years because of the cost of clearing many copyrights, of which "Happy Birthday to You" was one. Grants in 2005 for copyright clearances have allowed PBS to rebroadcast the film as recently as February 2008.
See also 
- Brauneis, Robert (2010). "Copyright and the World's Most Popular Song". GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1111624. SSRN 1111624.
- Paul Collins (July 21, 2011). "You Say It's Your Birthday. Does the infamous "Happy Birthday to You" copyright hold up to scrutiny?". Slate magazine. Retrieved 2011-08-09.
- Originally published in Song Stories for the Kindergarten (Chicago: Clayton E. Summy Co., 1896), as cited by Snyder, Agnes. Dauntless Women in Childhood Education, 1856–1931. 1972. Washington, D.C.: Association for Childhood Education International. p. 244.
- KET – History: Little Loomhouse
- Uncorking that Joyful Noise
- Wendy Williams said "We paid $700 to say happy birthday. You got to pay for the song." during an episode of her show, "Transcript of 5 Feb 2010 episode of 'The Wendy Williams Show'". 5 February 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
- EU countries observe the "life + 70" copyright standard.
- 537 US 186, Justice Stevens, dissenting, II, C.
- "Good morning". Time. August 27, 1934. Retrieved 22 March 2009.
- "'Happy Birthday' and the Money It Makes". New York Times. 26 December 1989. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- Snopes.com "Happy Birthday, We'll Sue"
- 17 USC §304
- Bates, Daniel (November 25, 2011). "Happy birthday Mr President, I'm a bit out of breath: Secret behind Marilyn Monroe's most memorable moment". Daily Mail. Retrieved April 5, 2012.
- Higham, Nick (December 24, 2000). "Victor Borge: The Great Dane". BBC News. Retrieved April 5, 2012.
- Logan, Brian (March 14, 2012). "Rainer Hersch's Victor Borge – review". The Guardian. Retrieved April 5, 2012.
- Dean, Katie (2005-08-30). "Cash Rescues Eyes on the Prize". wired.com. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
- "PBS News: PBS Celebrates Black History Month with an Extensive Lineup of Special Programming". PBS. 2008-01-10. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
- "Copyright and the World's Most Popular Song" is a very thorough history and copyright analysis by Robert Brauneis, Associate Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School
- Free sheet music of Happy Birthday to You from Cantorion.org
- The original edition of Song Stories For The Kindergarten in PDF (public domain). It contains the song "Good morning to you".
- The Happy Birthday Song and The Little Loomhouse