10 Christmas Copyright Stories

It's a Wonderful Life Poster

It is that time of year again. The holiday season is upon, and we are now 10 days away from Christmas.

So, as I do most years, I’m preparing to take some time off from the site until the new year (or just before) but I wanted to make sure that I left everyone with something seasonally appropriate.

To that end, this is something of an advent calendar. Ten stories for ten days to go until Christmas. The difference is, you can open all the stories up at once if you want.

So let’s sit back, relax and enjoy ten Christmas copyright tales from years gone by.

1: It’s a Wonderful (Copyright) Life

Have you ever wondered why It’s a Wonderful Life went from a movie played on a constant loop to one that is rarely played at all? Copyright is the reason. It’s the tale of a film that was originally a flop that lapsed into the public domain only to get a reprieve thanks to the Supreme Court and its newfound popularity.

2: Copyright, Royalties and Christmas Music

Whether you’re completely sick of Mariah Carey, relishing all the Christmas music or simply trying to stay alive in Whammageddon, you likely have wondered who these songs are making money for? This article not only explores the (relatively) recent phenomenon of the Christmas hit but also explains where the money is going.

3: The Christmas Monster Plagiarism Story

In 2018, the UK retailer John Lewis caused a bit of a stir when children’s book illustrator Chris Riddell accused them of plagiarizing his book as part of an ad campaign. Though technically more of a plagiarism story, here we examine the allegations and the potential copyright implications for them.

4: 5 Christmas Copyright Myths

Does Coca Cola really hold the copyright to Santa? Are we really barred from singing or playing Christmas music at our party? We tackle these myths and much more in this article. Though some of these myths are discussed in more detail elsewhere, it’s a great one to send to your friends, when they make one of these mistakes.

5: 5 Public Domain Christmas Songs (And 5 That Aren’t)

This is, strangely enough, the big one. Every year this article becomes the most popular article on the site through the month of December. It surprises many to learn that a large number of their favorite Christmas songs, which feel like they’ve been around forever, are actually still under copyright. However, there are plenty that are not.

6: 5 Public Domain Christmas Movies

Public domain Christmas music is well and good, but what about Christmas movies? This article has 5 public domain Christmas movies that you are free to do with as you wish. Sure, two of them are Mystery Science 3000 classics, but I never said they were GOOD Christmas movies…

7: The Battle Over Baby Yoda

Though December 2019 feels like an eternity ago, it was the season in which the world was introduced to “Baby Yoda” (or more accurately, Grogu) from The Mandelorian. However, the extreme secrecy of the character meant that toys would not be ready until May 2020, well after Christmas. This prompted many Etsy shop owners to try and fill the gap and that led to a copyright battle for the ages.

8: The Greatest Anti-Plagiarism Video I’ve Seen

Ok, this isn’t a copyright story, but an academic plagiarism one. Still, it’s too great to not include.

A Plagiarism Carol, a parody of A Christmas Carol produced by University of Bergen is easily one of the greatest anti-plagiarism videos of all time. It’s funny, engaging and with a perfect message for those feeling time crunched this time of year. Well worth 5 minutes of your time.

9: The Night Before a Copyright Christmas

In years gone by, around the holidays, I’ve often taken up my pen and revisited some of my poetry roots to write parodies of popular Christmas classics. This is it the first of the two I’ve done, a new take on A Visit from St. Nicholas, more commonly known as T’was the Night Before Christmas.

10: How the Seuss Estate Stole Christmas

However, my favorite of the parodies is this one. In 2017 the Dr. Seuss Estate was embroiled in a legal war over a parody one-woman play named Who’s Holiday, which lampooned How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The parody eventually won, but at Christmas 2017, the case was still very much up in the air, prompting this reimagining.

Bottom Line

On that note, happy holidays everyone. I will see everyone sometime near the end of the year as we do year-end wrap ups and begin to look ahead to 2022!

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