The company collecting royalties for Happy Birthday To You does not hold a valid copyright to the song, a US federal judge has ruled.

Peter Nunn, Intellectual Property lawyer at Mishcon de Reya, said:

"This decision is momentous for the US, as it means that Warner-Chappell, which has been claiming to be the copyright owner for decades, can no longer prevent people in the US from using the Happy Birthday song.  We can therefore expect to see it appearing in US films, recordings and books much more regularly. 

Unfortunately for people within the European Union, however, copyright will still protect the melody - as distinct from the words of the song - until the end of next year.  This is due to different copyright laws in the EU to the US."