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Can You Be Sued For Singing The Happy Birthday Song?

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Your legal brief for today: Can you be sued for singing the “Happy Birthday” song?

Imagine on Christmas Eve, your son sings the cutest rendition of “Santa Clause is Coming to Town.” You capture it on video and post it on YouTube. One hundred thousand viral views later, you get sued by the company that owns the rights to the song.

Is that possible?

It actually is if the song is copyrighted.

Generally, copyright protection lasts for 96 years and going back 96 years brings us to the year 1923. So any song written before 1923 is in the public domain and you can use it however you want.

However, any song written after 1923 is still protected and you have to be careful about its use.

Believe it or not, up until 2016, following protracted litigation, the song “Happy Birthday To You” was protected by Federal copyright laws. But as of 2016, the song “Happy Birthday To You” is no longer protected. So sing it to your heart’s content!

Jeremy Hogan
Jeremy Hogan
Attorney Jeremy Hogan is a partner at Hogan & Hogan.