If you are planning to celebrate with watching the epic documentary, “Eyes on the Prize” think again, says Thom Powers in the Boston Globe:
“EYES ON THE PRIZE,” the epic 1986 documentary series on the civil rights movement, contains a scene showing Martin Luther King Jr. on his 39th birthday — his last — in 1968. King, who was trying to take on poverty and the Vietnam War simultaneously, was under tremendous stress at the time, and his staff sang ”Happy Birthday” in an attempt to cheer him up.
But the producers of ”Eyes” almost had to leave the scene out of the finished documentary. ”Happy Birthday,” as it turns out, was copyrighted in 1935 and, following the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act of 1998, will remain so until at least 2030. Filmmakers have been known to pay $15,000 to $20,000 for just one verse, according to a recent report on documentary clearances issued by the Center for Social Media.