Intellectual Property » Does The Copyright Wielded By MLK’s Heirs Constrict His Legacy?

Does The Copyright Wielded By MLK’s Heirs Constrict His Legacy?

Washington, DC, USA - October 10, 2012: Memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King. The memorial is America's 395th national park.

January 19, 2015

The scenes of Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering speeches during the Civil Rights movement in the film Selma, nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, had to be paraphrased because of the tight control King’s estate exercises over his words and legacy. The film rights to King’s speeches, however, have been licensed to DreamWorks and Warner Bros., for a biopic to be produced by Steven Spielberg. King’s estate has not been shy about going to court to protect its copyright: In the 1990s, USA Today was sued for reprinting the full text of the “I Have a Dream” speech, and CBS for including footage of the speech in a documentary series on the 20th century. The estate has on the other hand authorized DVD sales of the speech, and licensed portions of it to be used in ads by AT&T, Apple, and Mercedes, among others. Copyright lawyer Jonathan Band, writing for Politico, explores how one estate can control words so central to American history, 50 years after they were delivered before millions.

Read full article at:

Share this post: