The judge ruled that the original copyright, filed in 1935 by the Summy Co. and now claimed by Warner Chappell Music, only includes specific piano arrangements and not the song as a whole. The court case was brought against the company, a division of media giant Warner Music Group, back in 2013 by musician Rupa Marya and filmmaker Robert Siegel after they were asked to cough up $1,500 to use the song, according to the report. Filmmaker Steve James paid Warner $5,000 to include the song for just nine seconds in his 1994 documentary, "Hoop Dreams," the Los Angeles Times reported.
A Warner spokesperson said the company is looking at the court's opinion and considering its options, according to the LAT. Meanwhile, Randall Newman, the attorney who represented the filmmakers in the case, told the paper, "'Happy Birthday' is finally free after 80 years. Finally, the charade is over. It's unbelievable."