Using Christmas Music and Characters in Games

If you were raised in the USA (or certain other parts of the world as well) Christmas is heralded by things such as decorated fir or pine trees, hearing (the very 1950s) Frosty the Snowman, ads prominently featuring Santa Claus, renting the 378th remake of The Christmas Carol and watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with “limited” commercial interruption.

While these things might feel as if they’ve been around forever, the fact is a vast majority of your Christmas associations are owned and protected. Now what exactly does “protected” mean? Well, at the core, it means you can’t use it without a license. Period.

Here are some examples of protected music:

  • Frosty The Snowman
  • Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Carol Of The Bells
  • Jingle Bell Rock
  • Winter Wonderland
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  • White Christmas
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas
  • The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
  • Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
  • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
  • The Little Drummer Boy
  • Sleigh Ride
  • It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas
  • Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree
  • Silver Bells
  • Feliz Navidad
  • A Holly Jolly Christmas
  • Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)

and some examples of protected characters:

  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • The Grinch

Now before you go all Grinch.. err.. I mean Scrooge, there are both music and characters in the public domain.

Public Domain music:

  • Deck The Halls
  • The First Noel
  • Hark, The Herald Angels Sing
  • Jingle Bells
  • Joy To The World
  • Come All Ye Faithful
  • Silent Night
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas
  • We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Public Domain Characters:

  • Santa
  • Scrooge
  • Reindeers without red noses

Also note that while even if songs are in the Public Domain, you can not use any recording of those songs (unless the owner of the recording has put it in the public domain). Recordings are covered by a separate copyright. For more info about Public Domain music, you can visit:


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