“I have a dream”

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”

Martin Luther King’s famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial, 1963. ©EMI/Sony!

Martin Luther King Jr.‘s “I Have a Dream” speech is considered one of the most recognizable collection of words in American history. It’s the rhetorical equivalent of a national treasure or a national park. The National Park Service inscribed it on the Lincoln Memorial and the Library of Congress put it into its National Recording Registry. So we might hold it to be self evident that it can be spread freely.

Not exactly. Any unauthorized usage of the speech and a number of other speeches by King – including in PBS documentaries – is a violation of American law.

Another tragic abuse of copyright. It’s hard to imagine anything more deserving of being in the public domain.

In 2009, EMI Publishing became the administrator of the King copyright, after a deal the music publishing giant struck with the King family for an undisclosed sum. […]

“His works are the expression of a man who helped to transform our society, and to this day his words continue to inspire the world,” EMI Chairman and CEO Roger Faxon told reporters at the time of the deal. “Assuring that Dr. King’s words are accorded the same protection and same right for compensation as other copyrights works is a profound responsibility, and we are proud of the confidence that the Estate has placed in us to fulfil that responsibility.”

The Copyright Nightmare of “I Have a Dream” & Copyright King: Why the “I Have a Dream” Speech Still Isn’t Free on motherboard.vice.com/