Video posted to protest copyright law removed


A video protesting U.S. copyright law which showed Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech -- which is copyrighted -- has been removed from Vimeo. (Screengrab by Hayley Tsukayama/Screengrab by Hayley Tsukayama)
January 18, 2013

Open Web advocates sharing a video showing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s copyrighted “I Have a Dream” speech Friday in protest of U.S. copyright law have run into a problem — the video has been removed from the Web.

The EMI music group holds the rights to the speech, video of which has been removed from other video sites in the past. In celebration of Internet Freedom Day — the first anniversary of the defeat of Internet piracy bills proposed last year — the Internet activism group Fight for the Future uploaded a video containing King’s speech to Vimeo.

The group was instrumental in organizing people to fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP (Intellectual Property) Act. In a list of things people could do to commemorate the day, the group included the following suggestion:

“Engage in a small act of civil disobedience and share this video of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech. Dr. King’s call for racial justice is as relevant today as it was in 1963. Because this speech is copyrighted, if SOPA had passed, entire websites could have been shut down just for linking to it.”

A few hours after it was posted online, the video — titled “MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech is copyrighted. Share it anyway.” — Vimeo deleted it from its servers.

Fight for the Future campaign manager Evan Greer said his group has contacted Vimeo to confirm whether copyright concerns led to its removal. Fight for the Future believes the video should be protected, particularly since it was being used to express a political opinion.

“It’s to remind people what could have happened and to call into question why [videos of the speech] have been taken down,” he said.

Vimeo did not immediately respond to a request asking for more information about why the video was deleted.

Related stories:

Web activists celebrate ‘Internet Freedom Day’

With SOPA gone, setting Internet advocacy’s next stop

Web sites go dark in SOPA protest against plans to ban online piracy

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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