“A Monument for Civil Rights and Intellectual Property Right

             The speech that has become a symbol of the Civil Rights Movement and an embedded, interwoven piece of American history has also developed into a heated, standard-setting debate of intellectual property ownership. The Copyright Acts of 1909 and 1976 protect works from the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form, leaving registration voluntary, but necessary if suit is to be brought for infringement. However, the 1909 version composed an important and determining difference, resulting in the legal fate of Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech, which highlighted the March on Washington. According to the Eleventh Circuit Opinion that heard Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., Inc. versus CBS, Inc., an appealed case, the legal technicality was “whether Dr. King’s attempt to obtain statutory copyright protection on September 30, 1963 [almost one month after the March on Washington] was effective, or whether it was a nullity because the speech had already been forfeited to the public domain via a general population.” (case? 2). Public performance of a work does not constitute general publication, and even though media access and service may have granted limited publication, the possession, control, benefits and responsibilities were entirely and rightly King’s and is currently of the Estate’s.
             Bill Rankin’s article printed in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution quotes Joseph Beck, an attorney for the King’s Estate, “When someone makes a speech in public, one doesn’t have to stand up and say, ‘All rights reserved’” (573). The issue is much like a rapper who free verses lyrics on the spot or performs premeditated, unique prose in the presence of a public audience; in either instance the creator is equally protected under a common-law copyright. Dr. King’s choice to use the press simply extended the event’s audience via media technology and thus allowed a copying of the material to provide cove...

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“A Monument for Civil Rights and Intellectual Property Right. (1969, December 31). In MegaEssays.com. Retrieved 15:10, January 18, 2017, from http://www.megaessays.com/viewpaper/5129.html