On July 28, 2015, one day prior to a scheduled ruling, Nelson's attorneys Betsy Manifold and Mark Rifkin presented new evidence that they argued was conclusive proof that the song was in the public domain, "thus making it unnecessary for the Court to decide the scope or validity of the disputed copyrights, much less whether Patty Hill abandoned any copyright she may have had to the lyrics". Several weeks prior, they had been given access to documents held back from them by Warner/Chappell, which included a copy of the 15th edition of The Everyday Song Book, published in 1927. The book contained "Good Morning and Happy Birthday", but the copy was blurry, obscuring a line of text below the title. Manifold and Rifkin located a clearer copy of an older edition, published in 1922, that also contained the "Happy Birthday" lyrics. The previously obscured line was revealed to be the credit "Special permission through courtesy of The Clayton F Summy Co.". Manifold and Rifkin argued that because the music and lyrics were published without a valid copyright notice as was required at the time, "Happy Birthday" was in the public domain.
Warner/Chappell Music acquired Birch Tree Group Limited in 1988 for US$25 million. The company continued to insist that one cannot sing the "Happy Birthday to You" lyrics for profit without paying royalties: in 2008, Warner collected about US$5,000 per day (US$2 million per year) in royalties for the song. Warner/Chappell claimed copyright for every use in film, television, radio, anywhere open to the public, and for any group where a substantial number of those in attendance are not family or friends of whoever is performing the song. Brauneis cited problems with the song's authorship and the notice and renewal of the copyright, and concluded: "It is almost certainly no longer under copyright."
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