Today we celebrate and honor the man who was probably the greatest civil rights leader this country has seen in Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King was most famous for giving his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech during the civil rights march on Washington in 1963. While the speech is known by many today, did you know that the speech has been copyrighted?
Dr. King had the speech copyrighted a month after giving it because some companies had been selling unauthorized copies. Since Dr. King’s tragic assassination the rights to the speech has fallen to this family who have refused to release it to the public domain. What this means is that if you wanted to use the speech in a movie or another work you would have to obtain the rights from the King family. However, using it in an educational setting is considered fair use. Because of this it’s difficult to find a complete version of the speech online, but The King Center sells a DVD of the speech for $20.
Some people may view this as a money grab by not allowing the speech into public domain, however there is a drawback to allowing into the public domain. Whenever everybody can use a famous speech or work, someone will inevitable use it for the wrong reasons. Could you imagine if some advertiser used Dr. King’s speech in some kind of commercial?
While the speech in its essence belongs to all of us, it should be protected as much as possible from those who would betray its meaning by perverting it for unrelated profit.