Music publisher doesn't own 'Happy Birthday,' has to pay back $14 million

Music publisher Warner/Chappell Music will return $14 million in fees to settle a lawsuit that challenges its claim to "Happy Birthday," one of the world's best-known songs.

A federal judge ruled in September that Warner/Chappell didn't own the lyrics and had no right to charge for their use.

The Los Angeles Times cites court documents released Monday that outline terms of a settlement reached in December. Under the deal, Warner/Chappell will give up its claims to the ubiquitous song and reimburse those who paid licensing fees.

The settlement was announced as a trial was set to begin. The lawsuit called on the publisher to return fees collected over the years for use of the song in movies and other commercial ventures.


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