Graphic by Greg Harrison.
You may think the Happy Birthday song is as old as time. It is. You may think you have the right to sing it to your friends (or yourself) publically at any time. You don't. "Happy Birthday To You" is under copyright law and has been since 1935. The company that owns the rights makes up to $2 million a year from the joyful tune's appearance in media. The Creative Commons are currently in the midst of holding a competition for music-makers worldwide to create a new song that will become even more popular. While it's a grand ambition, world famous songs aren't usually forced into eternal popularity, so we will see how this progresses. Until then, be very careful when using this classic song, and don't have a happy birthday just in case.
A video compilation of Happy Birthday alternatives used in films and television shows. While they are creative attempts, well, they are just not up to par with the universality and recognizableness of the classic happy birthday song.
The current list of Happy Birthday replacement options:
The deadline for entry is January 13th. There is no cash prize (that's the point!) but the winner's name could go down in birthday-related fame alongside Patty and Mildred Hill forevermore.
New Birthday Song Contest OFFICIAL RULES