Fifty years ago, yesterday, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the National Mall at the Lincoln Memorial and delivered one of the most important speeches in United States history. It is talked about in the same breath as the Gettysburg Address. And yet I can’t go to YouTube and see the entire speech. If I desire to see the speech, I have to order a $20 DVD. Why? Because the family has asserted Copyright on the speech.
Thankfully, my children’s school system has purchased the rights to show the video. I am not sure how much it cost the school, or the countless other school systems who have purchased the rights, but I do not think that Dr. King would approve. While I can’t find a complete copy online to view, Apple, Chevrolet, Alcatel, AT&T, Zions Rootswear have paid millions to King, Inc. to license the rights to the speech and his likeness. Even after paying 2.7 million to the estate, MLK Foundation had to change its name because the estate took the right to use the name away from the foundation building the MLK Memorial on the National Mall. Frankly, I find that disgusting. We must correct this situation or we risk losing the ability to learn from, and build on, our own cultural heritage.