The song "Happy Birthday" is now as free as a birthday balloon with a loose string.
A US District Judge in Los Angeles approved a final settlement Monday in a lawsuit brought against music publisher Warner/Chappell, who owns the copyright on the birthday song, by half a dozen plaintiffs -- one of which is a Bay Area musician.
Under the terms of the settlement, Warner/Chappell will have to reimburse $14 million in licensing fees collected over the past 3 years to more than 200 claimants.
Berkeley’s Rupa Marya leads the band Rupa and the April Fishes and was one of the plaintiffs in the case. On Monday she got an assurance she’ll be reimbursed $455, the amount she paid Warner/Chappell for using Happy Birthday on a live album recorded in 2013.
“I feel so great about it,” Marya said, while riding a cab from the federal courthouse in Los Angeles to the airport for a flight home.