THE BRITISH LIBRARY

American Collections blog

02 December 2009

Good Morning To All

A significant Team America birthday today (I won't say who or what), and a chance to draw attention to the Library's extensive holdings of musical scores.  The earliest edition of Mildred Hill's Happy Birthday To You (most likely based on the earlier Good Morning To All (1893)) was published first as a march, Happy Birthday, in 1934, and then with words by Patty Smith Hill in 1935 (VOC/1935/HILL).   It is, of course, still in copyright, so rather meanly (and perhaps to someone's relief) we restrained from singing and paying a royalty.

There's more about song books, which often carried very interesting covers, on Jean's web exhibition for the Eccles Centre, 'Singing the Dream.'

[M.S.]

Comments

Poor Igor Stravinsky even got caught with Happy Birthday copyright troubles...Nice scores!

According to Wikipedia the song is worth $5,000 per day, so watch your back.

"In 1935 "Happy Birthday to You" was copyrighted as a work for hire by Preston Ware Orem for the Summy Company, the publisher of "Good Morning to All". A new company, Birch Tree Group Limited, was formed to protect and enforce the song's copyright. In 1998[9], the rights to "Happy Birthday to You" and its assets were sold to The Time-Warner Corporation. In March 2004, Warner Music Group was sold to a group of investors led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. The company continues to insist that one cannot sing the "Happy Birthday to You" lyrics for profit without paying extremely high royalties: in 2008, Warner collected about $5000 per day ($2 million per year) in royalties for the song.[2], pp. 4,68 This includes use in film, television, radio, anywhere open to the public, or even among a group where a substantial number of those in attendance are not family or friend to whoever is performing the song."

Thanks Neil, there's some useful stuff on Grove, too.

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