Well yesterday, September 22, 2015, a California Federal judge agreed, and ruled that Warner Chappel's copyright is invalid, except with respect to a narrow piano arrangement of music to accompany the song. U.S. District Judge George H. King found that Warner had never acquired the rights to the song’s lyrics, according to Tuesday’s decision. In copyright records, court records and several agreements over the use of the song, nowhere was there discussion of the lyrics to “Happy Birthday,” according to the decision. Some records mention the melody or piano arrangement, but not the words to the song, the judge said.
This means that video game developers can use the song "Happy Birthday to You" without fear of the Warner Chappel Music Police sending you a nasty-gram, demanding a royalty. The case is Good Morning to You Productions Corp. et al v. Warner Chappell Music Inc. et al., case number 2:13-cv-04460, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Read more at Law360.com.