MLK estate charges authors $50 for each sentence of his "I Have A Dream" speech

Is this really a good idea if you want to promote his legacy?

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.’s estate charges academic authors $50 for each sentence of the “I Have a Dream” speech that they reprint.

I don’t know, as far as licensing goes, $50 per sentence of one of the most important speeched of the 20th century seems pretty reasonable to me.

Hopefully they’re making exceptions for textbooks and such that want to reprint the whole thing, but for the numerous people that simply use it as a “commodity” inspirational puff-piece, I don’t have a problem with them charging $50 for it.

A single New Yorker cartoon will run into the hundreds of dollars, and what’s more important, really?

First off, Fair Use laws should allow anyone to excerpt bits of the speech anyway.

Got a better cite?

In a world without an active and vibrant creative commons, even our collective history is portioned out to the highest bidders.

The King Estate clearly allows for fair use of the speech; the MLK site at Stamford gives guidelines.

This sounds like one of those “weird law” cites: At some point, the estate charged a fee for a reprint of the speech that worked out to $50 a sentence.

Further search indicates that CBS used the speech as part of a documentary on MLK without permission, and the court ruled they had to pay for it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the final cost to CBS was at least $50 a sentence.

Of course, the biggest question is, so what? Why shouldn’t the estate get paid if someone is trying to profit from the use of the speech?

The page that’s linked to in the OP has several misleading and possibly incorrect factoids, such as the idea that “BILL GATES had the 11-million-image Bettmann Archive buried 220 feet underground.” Photo archives are stored in underground vaults to protect them. It’s not like they dig a hole and pile dirt on top of the pictures.

IIRC from news stories at the time, CBS was using their own news footage of the speech, which they had covered as a news event at the time of the rally. I don’t blame CBS for thinking they shouldn’t have to pay to use it.

I’m not sure that a fixed per-sentence price qualifies as selling to the highest bidder.

This is why I buy all my speeches in bulk.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was not a rich man; his financial assets and material estate were modest; the only thing worth any money, worth the kinds of money it takes to run the King Center and other estate nterests is his intellectual property: family images, speeches and writings.

Naive critics keep insisting its somehow wrong for his family, in a capitalist society, to charge money for proprietary use of this material beyond the guidelines of academic and newsworthy “Fair Use”. The King Estate has a legal right to do so, and an ethical right to enforce it. This delusional whiff of unseemliness most critics imagine is classist and uninformed opinion. Some of it is outright bigoted, too.

I’m sure that’s what CBS thought, and probably made a good argument for it. But the court ruled it wasn’t fair use, so that ended it.

I’d tend to disagree with this. The people who say it’s wrong is more likely to be people who think that copyrighting anything is somehow morally wrong, since it makes it difficult for them to steal it. :rolleyes:

Seems a bit ironic, considering many scholars (sorry no cite) seem to agree that much of this speech was plagiarized.