Public Domain And Copyrighted Christmas Songs Explained

When it comes to Christmas Songs, understanding what is copyrighted and what is public domain can get complicated.  For public domain songs, you can do anything you want with them without the need to obtain permissions, pay royalties, or credit the original author. This does not apply to copyrighted arrangements of a song in the public domain. Songs that are copyrighted will required permission, licensing, or exemptions.

One of the most common myths is that ALL Christmas songs, carols or hymns are in the public domainand don’t require licensing or permission. It’s a misconception that could prove costly for churches unless they understand that many Christmas tunes are copyrighted and owned by secular music publishers.

For example, churches often sing, record, stream, print songs like “White Christmas,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Mary Did You Know,” and don’t realize they need licensing or permission to do so. In addition, most of these secular songs are not included in the song programs of most church blanket licenses. However, they are included in performance licenses like CCS’s PERFORMmusic License and WORSHIPcast License, so that you can legally play more than 19 million songs ONSITE in your facilities and ONLINE on your websites.   

We have created two great resources to help you navigate these songs.  Click below to read more about these. 

Public Domain Christmas Songs

Copyrighted Christmas Songs

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, as well as representation, administration and advocacy for copyright owners. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.