Plaintiff Who Challenged "Happy Birthday" Copyright "Screamed With Joy" at Ruling

REX USA
Marilyn Monroe sang perhaps the most famous rendition of "Happy Birthday" to President Kennedy

Rupa Marya says she would like the $450 she paid Warner/Chappell Music to license the song.

Rupa Marya, one of the four plaintiffs who challenged the copyright on "Happy Birthday To You," said she "screamed with joy" when she heard a federal judge ruled that the rights held over the song were invalid. 

Speaking to CBS Los Angeles, Marya said, "I just got off an airplane from a tour in Europe and my lawyer just called me and he said ‘We won!’ and I screamed in joy."

She added: "I thought it was great. This is an amazing example how ordinary citizens can take corporations to task for things when they overreach into places they don’t belong."

The rights to the song are claimed by Los Angeles-based music publishing company Warner/Chappell, with the company reportedly collecting $2 million a year in royalties. 

Marya, singer of the band Rupa & The April Fishes, recalls how her legal troubles began when the audience sang her "Happy Birthday" at a San Francisco gig back in 2013. When the band tried to add that live rendition to an album, she was hit with a lawyers demand for payment to license the song.

"It seems ridiculous and it seemed like something that we should try to fight for," she said. Marya and the other plaintiffs fought for two years before winning on Tuesday.

Marya said she would like back the $450 that she paid Warner/Chappell and that all the other artists who paid to use the song are reimbursed too. Marya's lawyer is in the midst of turning the case into a class action lawsuit. 

 

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