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Commonly Asked Questions


What is a class action lawsuit?

Answer:

In a class action, one or more people, called the “Named Plaintiffs” or “Class Representatives,” sue on behalf of others who have similar claims. The people together are a “Settlement Class” or “Class Members.” The individual who originally filed the lawsuit is called the Plaintiff. One court will resolve the issues for everyone in the Settlement Class—except for those who choose to exclude themselves from the Settlement Class.

 

For purposes of settling this case, the Parties have agreed to have the Court treat the case as a class action.

 

The Defendants are Warner/Chappell Music Inc. and Summy-Birchard Inc. and the Intervenors are The Association for Childhood Education International and the Hill Foundation Inc.

 

The Plaintiffs are Good Morning to You Productions Corp., Robert Siegel, Rupa Marya d/b/a Rupa & The April Fishes, and Majar Productions, LLC.

What is this lawsuit about?

Answer:

Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants, Warner/Chappell Music Inc., and Summy-Birchard Inc. and the Intervenors, the Association for Childhood Education International and the Hill Foundation Inc. do not own, and never owned, a copyright to the Song’s (Happy Birthday to You!) words and music, and have asserted claims that the Defendants must reimburse everyone who has paid for the Song since September 3, 1949.

The Defendants believe that they own a valid copyright to the Song’s words and music and deny all of the allegations of wrongdoing, fault, or liability in Plaintiffs’ Fifth Amended Complaint and deny that they have acted improperly as alleged.

This lawsuit has been actively litigated since it was filed, and the Parties have participated in discovery. On September 22, 2015, the Court entered partial summary judgment in favor of the Plaintiffs and against the Defendants, finding that the Defendants do not own, and never owned, a copyright to the Song’s lyrics.  The Defendants moved for reconsideration of that ruling. The Court scheduled a trial on whether anyone else owns or ever owned such a copyright. Before trial commenced or the Court ruled on the Defendants’ motion for reconsideration, the Parties exchanged detailed information about the claims, defenses, and alleged damages at issue for the purposes of Settlement.  Following an all-day mediation session with an independent and experienced mediator, and extensive additional arm’s-length Settlement negotiations, the Parties reached this Settlement.

The claims that are subject to this Settlement are identified in Plaintiffs’ Fifth Amended Complaint and in the Settlement Agreement. To the extent this summary conflicts with the Fifth Amended Complaint or the Settlement Agreement, the claims identified in the Settlement Agreement control. You may review the Settlement Agreement, the Fifth Amended Complaint, and the Court’s order preliminarily approving of the Settlement.

 

Why did I receive a notice?

Answer:

You received the notice because the Defendants’ or HFA’s (Harry Fox Agency) records indicate that you paid one or more of them for use of the Song (Happy Birthday to You!) at some time since September 3, 1949.

 The Court has ordered that you be sent the notice because you have a right to know about a proposed Settlement of a class action, and about all of your options, before the Court decides whether to finally approve the Settlement.

 If the Court finally approves the Settlement and the approval is affirmed on appeal or is not timely appealed, payments will be mailed to Settlement Class Members who submit valid Claim Forms in a timely manner and who do not exclude themselves from the Settlement Class, as set forth in the Settlement Agreement.

Who is included in the class?

Answer:

You are automatically a member of the Settlement Class if: (1) you do not exclude yourself from the Settlement Class; and (2) you satisfy the definition of the Settlement Class, which is set forth on Pages 1-2 of your notice and in Section 1.53 of the Settlement Agreement.

What rights am I giving up under the Settlement?

Answer:

Unless you exclude yourself, you will remain in the Settlement Class. This means that, for example, you cannot sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against the Defendants for any of the claims related to the Song’s copyright that were or could have been asserted in the Fifth Amended Complaint covered by the Settlement Agreement. The Settlement Agreement describes with much more detail what you would be giving up by participating in the Settlement.  You may view the Settlement Agreement and Fifth Amended Complaint or through the Court’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system at https://ecf.cacd.uscourts.gov.

What are my options as a Class Member?

Answer:

·         You may participate in the Settlement.  To participate you must complete and sign a Claim Form, provide documentation supporting your claim, and mail all of these items to the Settlement Administrator postmarked no later than May 27, 2016, or Fax or Email your Claim Form so that it is received no later than May 27, 2016.

 ·         You may exclude yourself from the Settlement.  If you do not wish to participate, you must submit a written request for exclusion signed and mailed to the Settlement Administrator postmarked no later than May 27, 2016.

·         If you do not like the Settlement or any part of it, you may object.  If you wish to object, file a written objection to the Court and mail copies to Class Counsel, Defense Counsel, and the Intervenors Counsel so that it is filed and mailed postmarked no later than May 27, 2016.

More information about these procedures can be found in the Settlement Agreement and in the settlement notice.

How do I file a claim?

Answer:

 To participate in the Settlement you must properly complete all pages of the Claim Form, submit valid documentation of the Licensing Costs being claimed, and sign and return the entire form by email, fax or mail to the Settlement Administrator. If you mail your Claim Form it must be postmarked no later than May 27, 2016. If you fax or email your Claim Form it must be received no later than May 27, 2016.

 Send your Claim Form to:

 

Happy Birthday Lawsuit Settlement

C/o Rust Consulting Inc.

PO Box 2496

Faribault, MN 55021-9196

Email: claimsadmin@happybirthdaylawsuit.com

Fax: 1-877-294-7052

How do I request exclusion?

Answer:

To exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, you must send a letter by U.S. mail to the Settlement Administrator so that it is postmarked no later than May 27, 2016.

 In order for your request to be valid it must include your name, address, email address (if applicable), phone number and signature; the date(s) of all direct payment(s) to Defendants or Defendants’ predecessors-in-interest or either’s Affiliates or HFA, Alfred or Faber for use of the Song, and the dollar amount(s) paid to Defendants or Defendants’ predecessors-in-interest or either’s Affiliates or HFA, Alfred or Faber for use of the Song; and must include the following statement:

 “I opt out of the Happy Birthday Litigation Settlement Class.”

 Mail your Exclusion request to:

Happy Birthday Lawsuit Settlement

C/o Rust Consulting Inc.

PO Box 2496

Faribault, MN 55021-9196

How do I object to the Settlement?

Answer:

To object, you must file an objection in the United States District Court for the Central District of California and send a letter by U.S. mail to the attorneys listed below, so that your objection is filed and mailed postmarked no later than May 27, 2016.

To be valid your objection must say that you “object to the Settlement in Good Morning to You Productions Corp., et al. v. Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., et al., Lead Case No. CV 13-04460-GHK (MRWx) (C.D. Cal.)”, and must include your name, address, telephone number, the date(s) of your payments to Defendants for the Song, your signature, and the reasons you object to the Settlement.

 

Clerk of the Court:

U.S. District Court

The Central District Of California

255 East Temple Street

Los Angeles, CA 90012-3332

Class Counsel:

Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP

Attn: Betsy C. Manifold, Esq.

750 B Street, Suite 2770

San Diego, CA 92101

Defense Counsel:

Munger, Tolles & Olsen LLP

Attn: Adam I. Kaplan, Esq.

560 Mission Street

San Francisco, CA 94105

 

Intervenor’s Counsel:

Whiteford Taylor Preston LLP

Attn: Steven E. Tiller, Esq.

7 St. Paul Street

Baltimore, MD 21202

What is the difference between objecting and asking to be excluded?

Answer:

Objecting is telling the Court that you do not like something about the Settlement. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you do not want to be part of the Settlement Class. You can object to the Settlement only if you stay in the Settlement Class. If you exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, you have no basis to object because the case no longer affects you.

What are the benefits of the Settlement?

Answer:

The Settlement provides two benefits, if approved by the Court:

 1.       First, the Defendants and the Intervenors have agreed, after the Court approves the Settlement and the approval is affirmed on appeal or is not timely appealed: (1) to relinquish their ownership claims to the Song and all their rights to the Song, (2) not to claim to own, or represent that they own, a federal or common law copyright in the Song or charge any fee for use of the Song, and (3) that all of their rights to the Song will be in the public domain. Also, the Defendants and the Intervenors have agreed not to oppose the Plaintiffs’ request that the Final Judgment and Order include a declaration that, after the approval is affirmed on appeal or is not timely appealed, the Song will be in the public domain.

 2.  Second, if approved by the Court, the Defendants have agreed to make available up to $14 million for: (1) the payment of Authorized Claims of Settlement Class Members who timely submit a valid Claim Form, (2) Settlement Administration and Notice Expenses of up to $100,000, and (3) any award to Plaintiffs’ Counsel for their attorneys’ fees and costs and awards to Plaintiffs for their service to the Settlement Class.

The payment of these items (which is dependent on Court approval) and the formula for payment of the authorized claims are described in your notice.

How much will I receive?/How are payments calculated?

Answer:

Payment amounts are not known at this time because the final calculation depends on the number and size of timely and valid Claim Forms.

 Up to $6,250,000 of the Net Settlement Fund will be made available to pay the claims of Settlement Class members who paid to use the Song on or after June 13, 2009 known as the “Period One Settlement Claims”.

Settlement Class members who timely submit valid claims for their Period One Licensing Costs will be paid in full on their Claims unless the payment would exhaust the entire $6,250,000, in which case all Authorized Period One Claims will be reduced on a pro rata basis as necessary to allocate a total of $6,250,000 of the Net Settlement Fund to the payment of Authorized Period One Claims.

Any portion of the $6,250,000 remaining after all Authorized Period One Claims are paid in full will be available to pay Period Two Settlement Claims.

 The remainder of the Net Settlement Fund will be made available to pay the Claims of Settlement Class members who paid to use the Song prior to June 13, 2009 known as the “Period Two Settlement Claims.” Settlement Class members who timely submit valid Claims for their Period Two Licensing Costs will be paid fifteen percent (15%) of their Claims unless the payment would exceed the remainder of the Net Settlement Fund, in which case all Authorized Period Two Claims will be reduced on a pro rata basis as necessary.

 

When will I be paid?

Answer:

The Settlement was approved on June 30, 2016.  The order became final Aug. 1, 2016. The Settlement Administrator is currently in the process of reviewing claims and expects payments to go out by calendar year end. You may contact the Settlement Administrator at 1-855-263-3448 or check this website periodically for updates.

Will my payment be taxable?

Answer:

Your payment may be subject to applicable taxes and withholding. Please consult your tax advisor if you have any other questions regarding taxes.

Do I have a lawyer in the case?

Answer:

The law firms of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP; Randall S. Newman PC; Hunt, Ortmann, Palffy, Nieves, Darling & Mah, Inc.; Donahue Fitzgerald, LLP; and Glancy Prongay & Murray, LLP have been representing the Settlement Class as Plaintiffs’ Counsel. Wolf Haldenstein has been Lead Class Counsel.

How will Class Counsel be paid?

Answer:

The Attorney’s will be paid by the Settlement Fund. Plaintiffs’ Counsel will ask the Court to approve payment of up to $4,620,000 of the Settlement Fund for attorneys’ fees and to approve reimbursement of their reasonable out-of-pocket costs, excluding the cost of the Settlement notice and administration, up to $400,000. 

Who are the Class Representatives?

Answer:

The Class Representatives are Good Morning to You Productions Corp., Robert Siegel, Rupa Marya d/b/a Rupa & The April Fishes, and Majar Productions, LLC.

What will the Class Representatives receive?

Answer:

Plaintiffs’ Counsel will also ask the Court to approve a payment of $15,000 to one of the Plaintiffs and $10,000 to each of the other three Plaintiffs in recognition of the risks and burdens they took and their service to the Class to aid in the investigation and prosecution of the case.

When and where will the court decide whether to approve the Settlement?

Answer:

The Court is presently scheduled to hold a Final Approval hearing on June 27, 2016 at 9:30 a.m., at the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Courtroom 650, 255 East Temple Street Los Angeles, CA 90012-3332.

 Please note that the hearing may be postponed or canceled without further notice to the Class. Thus, if you plan to attend the hearing, you should check this website periodically or through the Court’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system at https://ecf.cacd.uscourts.gov.

Do I have to come to the hearing?

Answer:

It is not necessary for you to appear at the hearing, but you may attend if you want to, at your own expense.

May I speak at the hearing?

Answer:

If you timely file an objection to the Settlement, you may also ask the Court for permission to speak at the Final Approval Hearing. To do so, you must include the words “I intend to appear at the Final Approval hearing” in your written objection, which must be filed according to the procedure described in Paragraph 17 of your Notice.

How do I get more information?

Answer:

The Notice contains a summary of the Class Action Litigation and the proposed Compromise and Settlement Agreement.

 

You may also view or download the Settlement Agreement and related documents on this website

 

You may also contact the Settlement Administrator whose contact information is listed below:

 

Happy Birthday Lawsuit Settlement

C/o Rust Consulting Inc.

PO Box 2496

Faribault, MN 55021-9196

Telephone: 1-855-263-3448

Email: claimsadmin@happybirthdaylawsuit.com

Fax: 1-877-294-7052

 

 

PLEASE DO NOT TELEPHONE THE COURT OR THE COURT CLERK’S OFFICE FOR INFORMATION.

Disclaimer

Please do not contact either the Defendant or the Court about this Settlement. Any and all callers will be directed to this website. If you have questions, please refer information posted here. This site is not operated by Plaintiffs or the Defendants.

This class action settlement is supervised by the Court and is administered by a claims administration firm that handles all aspects of claims processing

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