A New Happy Birthday

January 2, 2013 | Irina Dvalidze

Did you know that the most popular song in the English language costs lots of dough? That’s right, every time your big aunt Stella tries to channel her inner Marilyn Monroe and sing “Happy Birthday to You” while sitting in your creepy uncle’s lap, she should technically pay Warner Chappel Music royalties for performing it, regardless of how off key it is.

Warner Chappel earns $2 million a year in royalties from TV shows and filmmakers, despite the fact that the song was originally written in 1893 by two sisters Patty and Mildred J. Hill, who are both dead now and don’t actually benefit from their work at all…

Creative Commons, the champ of promoting artistic creativity and equal copyright, celebrated it’s tenth birthday yesterday with a very appropriate gift from WFMU and the Free Music Archive. They have launched a campaign/contest to collect alternate Birthday songs in their national repository. Songwriters can submit their renditions by 11:59pm ET on Jan 13. The submissions will be reviewed by a panel of judges including Lawrence Lessig, Jonathan Coulton, and members of Deerhoof and Yo La Tengo. Three winners will be announced on January 29, 2013. The selections will go into licensing under Creative Commons Attribution.

Check out the accompanying video above showcasing a handful of alternative “Happy Birthday” from film and television and get cracking.