'Happy Birthday' and other songs in public domain

FILE - Royal fans gather with placards, flags and balloons as they wait for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II to start a walkabout as she celebrates her 90th birthday in Windsor, England, Thursday, April, 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
FILE - Royal fans gather with placards, flags and balloons as they wait for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II to start a walkabout as she celebrates her 90th birthday in Windsor, England, Thursday, April, 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

- A judge approved a settlement that will put "Happy Birthday to You" in the public domain.

U.S. District Judge George King approved the agreement Monday. It ends the ownership claims of Warner/Chappell Music, the music publishing company that has been collecting royalties on the song for years.

Any song or musical work published in 1922 or earlier is in the public domain in the USA. 

The company has agreed to pay back $14 million to those who have paid licensing fees to use the song.

Last year, King ruled that the company didn't own the lyrics to the ditty, one of the best-known and most beloved songs in the world. He said the company has no right to charge for the song's use.

Warner/Chappell has said it didn't try to collect royalties from just anyone singing the song but those who use it in a commercial enterprise.

Other songs listed in the public domain include the Alphabet Song, When The Saints Go Marching In, You're A Grand Old Flag and Home On The Range.

For more songs, visit PDINFO.COM.

With the Associated Press

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