As we get to the heart of the holiday season, I prepare to take a little bit of time off at the end of the year to spend time with family, friends and generally prepare for the next year.
Unfortunately, this year it has to be a little earlier than usual. Medical issues are forcing me to take a week away starting today and I’m going to remain off the site until some time around the new year.
However, I couldn’t think of any better way to wrap up the year than to recap seven of my favorite holiday-related copyright and plagiarism stories that we’ve talked about over the years.
So, in chronological order, here are some copyright and plagiarism stories to help you get into the spirit of the season.
I didn’t do a lot of Christmas-related posts until 2010. However, the first one I did was a bit more personal than most. Venting frustration about the copyright climate that existed at the time in the form of a parody of A Visit from St. Nicholas, which is more commonly known as, “T’was the Night Before Christmas.”
Sadly for poets and lyricists everywhere, this would not be my last attempt at Christmas-related parody.
The next post comes from… August 2011?
That was when I discovered an anti-plagiarism video from the University of Bergen in Norway. They had put together a well-produced comedy video based on the famous story A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
Entitled, A Plagiarism Carol, the video details the story of a student named Kaj who procrastinates on an important assignment and is tempted by plagiarism. However, the Ghost of Plagiarism shows him what will happen if he goes through with it and he opts to write the assignment himself.
Be advised that the video does contain brief sexual and drinking references.
Every year, starting around Thanksgiving, this post goes from a relatively obscure post on the site to one of the most popular. It seems there’s a lot of interest in finding public domain Christmas music.
This list, published in December 2011, contains 10 popular Christmas songs, 5 of which are public domain and five that are not. However, the list focuses solely on the composition, not the recording, so it’s likely any recording of these songs will still be protected by copyright.
Still, if you’re looking for some Christmas songs to cover on your next CD, here are a few to choose from.
One of the most famous copyright stories is how It’s a Wonderful Life lapsed into the public domain and became a Christmas classic after TV stations picked it up to cheaply fill air time.
However, in December 2013 we took a longer look at that myth and found that the story was, in a word, incomplete.
It turns out that much of the film is still very much under copyright protection and, while it’s foray into the public domain may have built up its brand, it’s now very much a protected and controlled film.
Two years later, in December 2015, we revisited It’s a Wonderful Life and a slew of other holiday copyright myths. Whether it’s the songs you supposedly can’t sing at your party, the copyright on Santa Claus or history of Elf on the Shelf, there’s a lot of myths to go around.
So take a moment and peruse, you might realize something you were told as a fact is, in fact, a myth.
It’s the sequel that no one asked for. In December 2017 I picked up the pen and created another poetry parody, this one of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
The “plot” of my masterpiece is based on the story of Who’s Holiday, a parody one-woman play that featured a raunchy, grown-up Cindy Lou Who. The team Seuss estate tried, unsuccessfully, to sue the producers of the play.
It’s a great story about copyright and fair use, but also an opportunity for me to make a very mediocre parody of a masterpiece.
Finally, earlier this week, we took a look at the story of Moz the Monster, the Christmas mascot for the UK retailer John Lewis, that was accused of being a plagiarism of Mr. Underbed, a children’s book written by Chris Riddell.
While the battle certainly got tense, it never spilled over to legal action. Instead, the story actually had something of a happy ending as both monsters were successes, with Moz becoming well loved and Mr. Underbed selling out after a huge sales spike.
It’s proof that, even with plagiarism, sometimes there’s a Christmas miracle.
There’s not much more to say. I hope you enjoy the articles and that you all have a happy Holiday season. I’ll see you sometime around the New Year.
Best wishes and thank you all for a great 2018!