General · 2005-01-23

Happy birthday to you

At a restaurant the other night, I heard the waitstaff sing several lovely renditions of the “Happy Birthday to You” song, in four-part harmony no less — it was one of those places where the waitrons are all talented singers, and they frequently take a turn at the microphone to piano accompaniment. I’ve noticed that more restaurants have been using the real birthday song lately, rather than those godawful made-up ditties with lots of clapping. (Actually, the newfangled ditties have the advantage of being unruinable if they’re sung in three different keys simultaneously.)

I had been guessing that the famous HBTY copyright had finally expired. But a quick check of Snopes shows I was wrong: The Copyright Act of 1976 and the later “Mickey Mouse Protection Act” had the effect of extending the copyright on this song until at least 2030.

So I guess these restaurants are going to have to either start paying some royalties, or change their tune…