Monday, June 4, 2007

A Little Knowledge Is a Dangerous Thing

Unfortunately, these sorts of things only encourage me. Over the weekend, I started wondering if I had just been recklessly spouting off with no basis in fact about the “Happy Birthday” song being copyrighted—I mean, isn’t the world filled with oddball urban legends, the Mexican pet that’s a rat, kids exploding from Pop Rocks, and such?

But it turns out I’m right! “Happy Birthday” is indeed under copyright. Its official name is “Happy Birthday to You,” and its use brings in $2 million ANNUALLY. (Remind me again why I’m wasting my time with books.) The copyright will expire in 2030, which would make me how many years old then? Never mind. Check out the whole story here. Also check out the variations on lyrics here, with one version that rhymes “happy birthday to you” with “stick your head down the loo.” Apparently Spanish kids sing a version that translates to “your green celery.” What’s up with that?


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.