'Happy Birthday to you' - the most popular song of the 20th century in English language has been freed of the copyright act, which expired in 1921.
According to New York Post, a documentary film company, Good Morning to You Productions Corp. filed a 5 million dollars suit to put the 120-year old tune into public domain.
The copyright to the song as claimed by Warner/Chappell dates back to 1893 and if the documentary evidence is considered appropriate, then the copyright expired no later than 1921.
Court papers have charged Warner/ Chappell of unlawfully insisting that it owns the rights to the song and extracted millions of dollars of licensing fees from those unwilling or unable to challenge the ownership claims.
Any rights owned by Warner/Chappell are limited to reproduce and distribute specific piano arrangements for the song published in 1935.
According to the report, the production corporation, which filed the suit, is in the making of a documentary film tentatively titled 'Happy birthday' about the old favourite song.
The company said that while shooting a sequence for the movie, which included singing of the song, they were forced to pay a 1,500 dollars fee and sign a 'synchronization license' with Warner under the threat of a 1,50,000 dollars penalty for violating the federal Copyright Act.
Good Morning to You Productions said that they are committed to persecution of this action and will also compel Warner/Chappell to return the licensing fees it collected for the use of the song which amounts to an estimate of 2 million dollars a year, the report added.