18 Sep

 (c) Carrie Devorah :

Amidst the many things that happened in 1987, were two special things- Dr. King’s iconic speech and, a teaching moment in Copyright history the Congressional Judiciary Committees neglected to draw upon as Technology’s creep on 2D ARTS IP Copyright Ownership algorithmically speeds up theft of ARTS Creators Works, Rights and Commerce. The teaching moment in Copyright history? Oh, its on the books, so to speak…. Fair Use, Right To Identity, Right To Publicity, something Dr. King’s Estate is fierce to protect, matters rarely addressed in Judiciary hearings on the Hill, these days it seems.


Jennifer Jenkins, director of the Center of the Study of the Public Domain at Duke University’s Law School, stated she respects the King’s family’s right to maintain their father’s legacy. Legacy? Legacy is a word to describe what a dear departed parent leaves a Child when parent passed. Synonym? Heirloom. Treasure. Yes, even a way to make a living no different than stock in a company or a family jewel, speedboat, $2 bill or a red jellybean touched by the late President Reagan or Eva Longoria’s back end of things she produces in film, stage and beyond. But for some reason, ARTS, the brain food of industry, has a different cachet. Profit from the ARTS caps out a Life Plus 70, unless you are Disney with special Congressional dispensation able to renew rights twenty years at a time.

Since when did We The People become We and Then There Are The Other People…..

Jennifer Jenkins went further in her argument postulating that EMI Publishing, the British conglomerate working for the King Estate has a reason for protecting Dr Kings “I Have A Dream Speech,” making money. To the head of the class, Jennifer. Yes. Remember Joel Grey in “Cabaret?” Money makes the world go round. Some make more. Some make less. And others? Don’t care to make money of their own at all preferring to take the sweat of hard work off other’s brows.

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther Kings “I Have A Dream” is the only non musical performance of its kind in the EMI catalogue, a little known factoid, that shouldn’t make a difference in Copyright debate but since it is being brought up in the mud slinging against the King Family for protecting their father’s likeness, it is to be noted. EMI Publishing auctioned its catalogue November 2011. The consortium owning Sony won the catalogue bid for $2.2 billion. Dr. King’s “Dream” was a separate deal struck with the King family. The sum? Undisclosed. Dexter King, chairman of the King Estate said “EMI was the best candidate to preserve perpetuate and protect the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.”

Jenkins adjective for describing selling “I Have A Dream” is “Exploit.” Jenkins who did not list all or any personal encounters with Dr. King to offer first hand evidence of what the good Reverend wanted, publicly opines “that goal may be somewhat at odds with what King would have wanted people to do with his speech.” Furthermore, Jenkins said, that “every year on MLK Day that any kid, any educator, anybody should be able just to Google it online and watch the speech in its entirety. It’s a piece of history and I think most people think that he would have wanted it to be available (for free) maybe not available for use in a commercial but certainly available for education and journalistic purposes or documentaries about the civil rights movement.” No coincidence that Jenkins released her comments in and around the 50th Anniversary of The Speech, blushing publicity for herself and her organization by entering in to the debate invoking “The Dream.”

Excuse me but as the expression goes, who died and left her (a) King?

Copyright is a recognition and encouragement of authorship. Copyright is the vehicle by which 2D ARTS IP creators pay bills today and plan for tomorrow. It is not only legal but appropriate for Executors of Estates to define and restrict applications of the Copyrighted ARRS from requests and exploitations of Fair Use. Culture and historical value are secondary to the rights of the Inheritors of the Legacy. “Extract(ing) value” is the Law.

Detractors of Copyright Ownership, Dr King’s Estate, to be specific, challenge that Dr King would be turning over in his grave if he knew “I Have A Dream” was working for his family and descendants. Outspoken critics include some of the entities who marched with him, entities that fight to find financing for the Battle they continued. Fact is, the Speech are Dr. Kings words. And Clarence Jones didn’t demand a piece of the Copyright pie even though Jones worked on the speech.

Dr. King was an orator and an Author not an accountant. And he listened to sage advice. Dr King died leaving his family financially challenged, for the moment. The cash register on his “Dream” has been ringing for decades with protection of Trademark law under license by EMI Publishing. So what is Jenkins complaining about. People can buy a CD of King’s words for $20 at the King Center just like people can buy memorabilia of Elvis at Graceland, benefiting Elvis’ heirs, or images of the Beatles, or Dolly, or Reagan, or George Washington, the list of families, profiting from dead relatives goes on. Jenkins cannot profit from Dr Kings name in any way, shape or forum other than be a fan. Why, even the US Capitol cannot be exploited commercially nor images released from the Architect of the Capitol be used without permission. Without oversight, Dr King’s Likeness, Identity and Copyright, would be invoked for everything from car washes to conflict in the Middle East or What Would Reagan Do to Speakeasys or Beer Coolers at the Indy 500..

The defense of Kings Copyright has gone on for years.The King Estate sued CBS Inc. and Henry Hampton producer of the 1994 Mike Wallace documentary, “The 20th Century with Mike Wallace” in which CBS Inc used Dr King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. “The Estate said King’s Copyright was in force under Common Copyright Law retroactively to the date of his Speech. King copyrighted “I Have A Dream” a month later. CBS Inc. argued public performance of spoken word put The Speech in to Public Domain. The King Family argued the speech, albeit delivered over radio and TV, though unpublished at the time of its debut performance was protected under the 1909 Copyright Act.

The Matter was remanded to District Court where a green light was given for the Kings case against CBS Inc. to proceed. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled “A performance, no matter how broad the audience, is not a publication; to hold otherwise would be to upset a long line of precedent. This conclusion is not altered by the fact that the Speech was broadcast to a broad radio and television audience and was the subject of extensive contemporaneous news coverage. We follow the above cited case law indicating that release to the news media for contemporary coverage of a newsworthy event is only a limited publication,” positioning King’s iconic Speech into a protected arena of being delivered to Media, not the Public, limiting its exposure to protection from exploitation.

CBS Inc settled with the King Family before the Court Matter proceeded further. The Kings were paid lawyers fees of $10,000, a $1700 licensing fee. And an unnamed sum.  

That isnt the end of the iconic 17 Minute’s arguments in Courts, seventeen minutes being how long Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” lasted.  December 1963, the King family sued Mister Maestro Inc and Twentieth Century Fox Records Company along for uses of his likeness. Fox had recorded the Speech at the Mall, in the course of covering news, the King speech along with all the Speeches given that day.

Fifty years later, on the anniversary of the MLK March, Twitter’s feed reignited fire in the bellies of people who want access to the Speech for free. Along with the throngs of people, of all colors, came to the National Mall, to recreate history, came criticisms of ‘how could the King’s cash in’ Obvious answer…. Who’s their Daddy? That’s who. And for that reason alone, the King Estate had the right to sell Dr. King’s Likeness and phrases for more than $700,000 to the Foundation that built the MLK Memorial on the Mall. “Excesses of copyright” for limiting release of  MLK iconic speech, photographs, sound bytes and images? No. Excesses of expectation that it should be free.

Clarence Jones is the attorney who set this debate solid where it should be, years back. Jones reminds people to this day he told King, ‘Copyright it (The Speech).’ Jones, currently a visiting professor at the University of San Francisco, is also Writer In Residence at the Martin Luther King Jr Research and Education Institute at Stanford University and Palo Alto CA. Jones is pretty heavy weight. Jones is the first African American partner in a Wall Street Investment Banking firm, twice recognized as Fortune Magazine’s Man Of The Month.  

The King family had been left without  much money.

The King Center, in Atlanta, provides people access to The Speech. All the people have to do is ask, submit an application, comply with the Terms Of Service and/or agreement. People that ask are given access if their proposal is accepted Miri Ben Ami requested playing her violin to the a recited accompaniment of one of the most recognizable collection of words, The Speech, in the 20th Century, a National Treasure.    

Courts ‘finding’ for Fair Use, defending the Fair Use was central to ‘the progress of science and advancement of the useful arts’ tend to look past Celebrity when benchmark is a Law for All People, not just Famous People.

People can photograph the heck out of the Words “I Have A Dream” if they want to make the pilgrimage to DC and climb the Lincoln Memorial steps up to where Dr Kings words are chiseled in to the ground stone. No one seems to know it The King Estate charged the National Park Service to put those words there. If they did? What of it? Disgraced President Nixon’s estate charged America $18 million for Nixon’s Memorabilia.   The video of President Kennedy’s assassination had a pretty price tag too. Alcatel licensed a clip of Dr King’s iconic speech for an ad Alcatel aired in 2001. That’s ok, for now. Wont be long. 2038 is when Dr. King’s speech will be in public domain.

Money doesn’t bring peace. Three years after the death of their Mom, Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King III and Bernice were fighting Dexter in Court over their parents Estate. EMI chairman Roger Faxon says protecting right for compensation  of Kings words that inspiring the world is a responsibility. And Dr King’s name is invoked in the SOPA debate. At what price Copyright Innovation? Why should Entreneurship be free? Who makes those decisions? Who has the right to Censor a Copyright Owners Rights or their heirs their due Legacy? The entirety of Dr Kings speech will rarely be published or viewed or heard in full. Dr. King’s pitbull EMI will make sure violators are held accountable to the Law.

But not everyone is a Dr King. But every dollar and dime belongs to 2D ARTs IP Creatives too. Remember that Congress and Legislators around the world that Danceres and Artists and Musicians and Photographers had a dream too. In the Internet Age with each change made in Title XVII away from the Integrity of the Founding Father’s Property Rights declaration…. Copyright Owners dreams have become crippling nightmares growing exponentially each day the Internet Abuse of Fair Use and Safe Harbor isnt roped in…..



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