This card has optional greetings: Happy Birthday!, Happy Belated Birthday!, Thank You!, Thinking of You!, Just Saying Hi!, Get Well Soon!, Bon Voyage!, Have a Great Trip!, Merry Christmas!, Season's Greetings!, Happy Holidays!, Happy New Year!, Spring is Coming!, Welcome Spring!, Happy Spring!, Warm Wishes!, You're Invited!, Good Luck!, Congratulations!
The real kick in the backside came as I approached the middle of the year. I was getting closer and closer to the Fall season - a time when I knew that I had two big trips coming up - one to Europe and one to the States. I'm a traveling girl. I get on the plane at least once a year. However, this time, I was ready to write a slightly different story for myself. I was ready to feel differently about myself. I had a picture in my mind and in it, I was sitting in a cafe in Paris drinking a latte and feeling successful, feeling at peace because I had a business that was making money even while I was on vacation.
The documentary film The Corporation states that Warner/Chappell charged up to US$10,000 for the song to appear in a film. Because of the copyright issue, filmmakers rarely showed complete singalongs of "Happy Birthday" in films, either substituting the public-domain "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" or avoiding using a song entirely. Before the song was copyrighted it was used freely, as in Bosko's Party, a Warner Bros. cartoon of 1932, where a chorus of animals sings it twice through. The copyright status of "Happy Birthday to You" is directly referenced in a 2009 episode of the TV series iCarly, "iMake Sam Girlier", in which the main character as well as others begin to sing the song to Sam but are prevented from doing so by Freddie, who says the song isn't public domain; "For She's a Jolly Good Fellow" is then sung instead.
None of the early appearances of the "Happy Birthday to You" lyrics included credits or copyright notices. The Summy Company registered a copyright in 1935, crediting authors Preston Ware Orem and Mrs. R. R. Forman. In 1988, Warner/Chappell Music purchased the company owning the copyright for US$25 million, with the value of "Happy Birthday" estimated at US$5 million. Based on the 1935 copyright registration, Warner claimed that the United States copyright will not expire until 2030, and that unauthorized public performances of the song are illegal unless royalties are paid to Warner. In one specific instance in February 2010, the royalty for a single use was said to be US$700. By one estimate, the song is the highest-earning single song in history. In the European Union, the copyright for the song expired on January 1, 2017.
In the 30 Rock episode "Goodbye, My Friend", TGS cast members begin to sing the song following an announcement about the royalty fee for singing "Happy Birthday to You" on a television show. The cast is interrupted after the first line by a character entering the scene. In the Community episode "Mixology Certification", a scene starts with the last two words of the song ("... to you"), implying it had been sung in its entirety, before Pierce confusedly asks, "How come we only sang the last two words?"
In a 1998 episode of the television show Sports Night, "Intellectual Property", character Dan Rydell sings the song to his co-anchor during a telecast, forcing his network to pay royalties, and causing him to ask his colleagues to choose public-domain songs for him to sing for their birthdays. The copyright is also referenced frequently in a Disney A.N.T. Farm episode where characters repeatedly try to sing the song, only to be stopped by others reminding them of the price. The melody of the song is also featured in The Wrong Trousers but was replaced with "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" for DVD releases. The use of the song is a problem even if it is sung in a made-up language, as a Klingon-language version was nixed in pre-production from the 7th-season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called "Parallels", replaced with "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" in Klingon. In the Futurama episode "I Second That Emotion", they poke fun at the song and its copyright by making their own version with the lyrics "What day is today? / It's (birthday person)'s birthday / What a day for a birthday / Let's all have some cake."