Copyrighted vs. Public Domain Christmas Songs
November 18, 2020
Do you know the difference?
Every year about this time CCS starts to get questions regarding Christmas music. Planning Christmas programs this year is stressful enough, but understanding which Christmas songs are copyrighted and which are public domain doesn’t need to be.
That’s why we’ve put together two great resources to help you navigate these songs. Our free guides, Copyrighted Christmas Songs and Public Domain Christmas Songs offer explanations along with lists of songs that require permission and those that can be used freely.
Copyrighted vs. Public Domain
You can use public domain songs without obtaining permission, paying royalties, or crediting the original author. However, this does NOT apply to copyrighted arrangements of a song in the public domain. Songs that are copyrighted will require permission, licensing, or exemptions.
So how do you know the difference? Aren’t most Christmas songs in the public domain? The answer – while there are those you can use freely; many Christmas songs, carols, and hymns are copyrighted and owned by secular music publishers. It’s a commonly held misconception that all Christmas music is available for use without permission.
Want to test your knowledge? Look at the list below and see if you know which songs are in the public domain and which require licensing:
Angels We Have Heard on High
Away in a Manger
Frosty the Snowman
Deck the Halls
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Do You Hear What I Hear?
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Little Drummer Boy
Carol of the Bells
How do you think you did? Download CCS’s Christmas Fact Sheets to find out!
About Christian Copyright Solutions: CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.” CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches. Follow us onTwitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.
Tags: copyrighted christmas songs, public domain christmas songs