CNN, MSNBC to offer rare re-broadcasts of King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech

August 28, 2013

Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, which is rarely seen in its entirety due to licensing issues, will be broadcast by both CNN and MSNBC on Wednesday.

MSNBC has announced the speech will air after President Obama's address, at 4 p.m. eastern time. CNN has said it will air the King speech, but hasn't specified at what time.

Both networks, presumably, had to pay to use the footage, which is still kept under tight control by King's estate.

Here's more on the licensing issues, in today's Washington Post:

Since 1963, King and, posthumously, his estate have strictly enforced control over use of that speech and King’s likeness. A few years ago, the estate received more than $700,000 from the nonprofit foundation that created and built the monument to King on the Mall in order to use his words and image. The only legal way to reproduce King’s work — at least until it enters the public domain in 2038 — is to pay for a licensing fee, rates for which vary. (Individuals visiting the King Center can buy a recording of the “I have a dream” speech for $20. Licenses for media outlets run into the thousands.)

Although it has been the subject of at least two lawsuits — the King estate sued CBS and USA Today for their use of the speech, reaching undisclosed settlements — a court has never examined whether and under what circumstances the “I have a dream” speech may be used without authorization in what’s considered a “fair use” exception.

Courts look at four factors for fair use: (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is for commercial or for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. There are no bright-line rules for fair use; each case must be examined on its facts. Courts have frequently recognized that fair use is central to the “progress of science and advancement of the useful arts” that is the principal tenant upon which copyright laws were created.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Politics
Next Story
Aaron Blake · August 28, 2013