The senior class decided to raise some money for their class trip by putting on a Christmas show featuring many Christmas classics. Among the songs that the singers were going to sing included Frosty the Snowman, I\’ll Be Home for Christmas, Little Drummer Boy and Jingle Bell Rock. One of the organizers of the show heard from representatives of the estates of several of the song writers that royalties would have to be paid if the songs were used.
The organizers of the show felt that these were classic Christmas songs and no royalties would be owed.
ISSUE: Who is right?
ANSWER: Royalties would have to be paid if these songs were used without the expressed permission of the owners of the copyrights to the songs. There are many Christmas songs such as Jingle Bells and Silent Night that are considered in the public domain and because they are in the public domain they would not require royalty payments to be made to use them. Normally sheet music of the song in question would state whether or not the music is copyrighted.
Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.