Yesterday was an historic day in this country and the rest of the European Union, as one of the most popular songs in the world finally became public domain.
The authors of the song were two teachers, Patty and Mildred Hill, and although Mildred died back in 1916, her sister Patty did not die until 25 June 1946, at the ripe old age of 78.
Under European Union directives (and consequently the law in the UK), copyright in a musical work expires at the end of the year following the 70th anniversary of the author’s death. 2016 is that year, and so consequently at the stroke of midnight on 1 January 2017 whilst everyone else was out celebrating the new year, the copyright quietly expired.
Over in the USA, where the laws on copyright are different, there has been more than one court case over this song, but back in 2013 Warner Chappell Music had to settle for $14 million because they could not prove to the court’s satisfaction that they owned the copyright on the song, but only one specific arrangement of it.
So here’s my go at it: Happy Birthday To You sheet music