Lawyers for the filmmakers suing Warner/Chappell over “Happy Birthday” have found some very important evidence.
The filmmakers are making a documentary about the song, and have been arguing that the song should be in the public domain.
The new evidence comes straight from Warner/Chappell’s own files, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Lawyers found a blurry version of a songbook from 1927 with “Happy Birthday” lyrics.
Suspiciously, Warner/Chappell only provided these documents three weeks ago, claiming they “mistakenly” omitted them.
Lawyers then found an earlier edition of the book at the University of Pittsburgh from 1922. “Happy Birthday” was included without a copyright notice.
Warner/Chappell has been arguing that the song wasn’t published prior to a 1935 copyright registration.
Image by ‘Lynne Hand,’ licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution Generic (CC by 2.0).