UK

Martin Luther King's 'I Have A Dream' Speech Still Under Copyright

28/08/2013 14:39 BST | Updated 28/08/2013 14:40 BST

On the 50th anniversary of perhaps one the most famous speeches of all time, broadcasters will be playing clips of Martin Luther King's 'I Have A Dream' on networks across the world.

But they won't be playing it in its entirety. Because the estate of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King cannot be found legally in the public domain, unless express permission has been granted by them.

The only licensed version of the famous civil rights speech can be found in its entirety on the Martin Luther King historical site which hosts almost all of his archives - bar a few rogue YouTube clips.

martin luther king

Martin Luther King's estate copyrighted 'I Have A Dream'

Owners of copyright in America can claim royalties in the speech for 70 years after the death of its creator, so the speech is under the tough copyright until 2038, and broadcasters or websites must pay huge sums to use the speech.

King did not register the speech himself, according to The Drum, it was his estate's managers who realised they could cash in after his death.

In 1999, the King family sued CBS after the network produced a video documentary that used portions of the speech without their permission.

A decade later, EMI Publishing cut a deal with MLK's estate, and short clips of the speech became available to watch online, but not the entire video or transcript.