Mildred and Patty Hill rank among the most interesting progressive thinkers in the 19th century, and yet they are popularly remembered only for a copyright debate. Why is a song they didn’t precisely write still a corporate moneyspinner, at least 122 years after they published a similar ditty?
The Hills wrote and published “Good Morning To All,” which morphed into a more popular rendition: “Happy Birthday To You.” A lawsuit filed in 2013 by a documentary filmmaker, Jennifer Nelson, who was working on a movie about the song’s history, sought to get a court to determine that the copyright to the song asserted by its current owners, Warner/Chappell, expired in the 1920s, if it ever properly existed.
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