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Christmas season off to a rocky start as Dollywood sued over Charlie Brown song copyright

Christmas in Pigeon Forge
Photo: George Rose (Getty Images)

If you’re looking for an unusually festive place to celebrate Christmas this year, may we suggest Pigeon Forge, Tennessee? The fabled home of Dollywood, named for country legend Dolly Parton, offers holiday celebrations at the Titanic museum, a Christmas In The Smokies Bluegrass Festival, breakfast with Santa, a parade of many colors, and other plentiful holly-strewn elements of Dollywood’s Smokey Mountain Christmas. These events also include dinner theatre (naturally), and that’s where the looming presence of litigation is already Grinch-ing up the place.

Turns out, the Dollywood Christmas shows have been using the 1965 song “Christmastime Is Here” without permission in live Christmas performances since 2007. The song was written by Lee Mendelson and Vince Guaraldi for the classic 1965 television special A Charlie Brown Christmas. AP reports that Los Angeles-based Lee Mendelson Film Productions, which owns the copyright, is “asking for $150,000 for every time the song has been used.” Dollywood told AP that “it is aware of the lawsuit but declined to comment on pending litigation.”

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Well, this is just a horrible way to kick off the upcoming Christmas season. Unless Dollywood wants to cough up that considerable coinage, its shows better stick to public-domain holiday carols, like “Jingle Bells,” “Deck The Halls,” and “The Twelve Days Of Christmas.” And since Pigeon Forge bills itself as a place where “toys come to life and holiday music plays all around,” “Toyland” seems like a given.

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Gwen Ihnat

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.