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The company traces its origins back to 1811 and the founding of Chappell & Company, a British music publishing company and instrument shop that specialized in piano manufacturing on London’s Bond Street. In 1929, Warner Bros. acquired M. Witmark & Sons, Remick Music Corporation and Harms, Inc. Tamerlane Music was acquired in 1969.
Warner/Chappell was formed in 1987 in San Antonio, Texas, when Warner Bros. Music Chairman Chuck Kaye led the company to purchase Chappell & Co. from PolyGram. It was ranked in 2010 by Music & Copyright as the world’s third-largest music publisher with a catalog of more than one million songs and a roster of more than 65,000 songwriters. Among the songs in the company's library are "Winter Wonderland" and formerly "Happy Birthday to You" until the copyright of the song was invalidated in 2015 and put in the public domain the next year.
In 2005, Warner/Chappell sold most of its printed music division, Warner Bros. Publications, to Alfred Publishing, and in 2006 launched the Pan European Digital Licensing (P.E.D.L.) initiative. In 2007, when Radiohead released In Rainbows through its website on a pay-what-you-wish model, Warner/Chappell created a streamlined, one-of-a-kind licensing process for the songs on the album that allowed rights users around the world to secure use of the music from a single location.
In 2007, the company acquired Non-Stop Music. Additionally, in 2010 it acquired 615 Music, a Nashville-based production music company, and subsequently united all the production music companies under the name Warner/Chappell Production Music in 2012. In 2011, it acquired Southside Independent Music Publishing, whose songwriters included Bruno Mars, Brody Brown, and J.R. Rotem.
On June 30, 2017, Warner/Chappell filed a lawsuit against EMI Music Publishing, accusing the latter company of underpaying Warner Music for the royalties of the 20th Century Fox catalogue, which Warner acquired in 1982, as well as the rights to Curtis Mayfield and Kool and the Gang. This controversy arises from EMI's acquisition of Robbins and Feist in the early 1990s.
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