Prior to the lawsuit, Warner/Chappell had been earning $2 million a year licensing the song for commercial use,[44] with a notable example the $5,000 paid by the filmmakers of the 1994 documentary, Hoop Dreams,[47] in order to safely distribute the film.[48] On February 8, 2016, Warner/Chappell agreed to pay a settlement of $14 million to those who had licensed the song, and would allow a final judgment declaring the song to be in the public domain, with a final hearing scheduled in March 2016.[49][50] On June 28, 2016, the final settlement was officially granted and the court declared that the song was in the public domain.[18] The following week, Nelson's short-form documentary, Happy Birthday: my campaign to liberate the people's song, was published online by The Guardian.[51]
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Artist Notes: What a festive and fun way this card is to say Happy Birthday to all the special people in your life - whether friends, family or work associates. The card features a row of colorfully patterned and decorated candles, with diagonal stripes, polka dots, flowers and swirls on the candles of blue, green, pink and orange, on the black background. The result is a colorful line-up of candles, with flames atop, ready for the birthday celebration to begin. The hand lettered message, "Happy Birthday", is above the candle flames, in alternating brightly colored letters, that match the candle colors. The inside wording is "Hope your birthday sparkles!""
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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.[38]
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