Art's Birthday 2007

What better way to celebrate a birthday than with cake?

And what do you do when there's a birthday cake?

Sing "Happy Birthday!"

Unless you're in a public place that is... Singing "Happy Birthday" in your own home, as long as you're not inviting anyone who is not a family member or common guest in your household over, is fine. But singing it in a restaurant, bar or park, for example, is wrong. This song is copyright protected and royalties must be paid for every public performance or otherwise publicly accessible use.

Reportedly, it costs $10,000 US to include the song in a movie or television program.

Under copyright legislation it is illegal to reproduce the words or music publicly in any form. This includes foreign translation of the lyrics and excerpting the "Happy Birthday" melody in other compositions. Composers Irving Berlin, PDQ Bach, Roy Harris and Igor Stravinsky have all been threatened with prosecution or forced to pay royalty fees for including what many assume to be a folk song in their compositions.

There are allowances for public performances of segments of 30 seconds or 10% of copyright protected work, whichever is shorter. Remixes that maintain the integrity of the song are not exempt from copyright.


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Sandee Moore

Thanks to Mike Germain for audio recording