(Week of August 26, 2013) The descendants of Dr. Martin Luther King have been protective of the copyright on his works – including the “I Have a Dream Speech,” delivered 50 years ago Wednesday at the 1963 March on Washington. That copyright will not expire until 2038. Until then, to rebroadcast the speech – or even to reprint it – requires paying a fee to the King estate. Americans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll think the speech belongs to history, and that journalists and documentary makers should have the right to rebroadcast it without paying licensing fees.
This copyright issue is not one about which most Americans are aware. 71% say they have heard nothing about it. Yet even this divides America just as many issues still do: along racial lines. Whites overwhelmingly want the speech available; blacks believe the King family has the right to protect Dr. Kings ́ legacy.