What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell Us

Why ‘Selma’ can’t show video from Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches

David Weinberg Jan 7, 2015
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Why ‘Selma’ can’t show video from Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches

David Weinberg Jan 7, 2015
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The movie Selma will be released nationwide on January 9th. The film focuses on the events leading up to the Voting Rights act of 1965, including several famous speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King, but what viewers won’t screen on-screen are those speeches. At least not the way that King originally delivered them.

Instead, viewers will see altered versions of the speeches because — and this may surprise some of you — Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches are copyrighted.

The studio behind the film didn’t have the rights to use King’s actual words. The King estate, which controls his intellectual property, is known for aggressively pursuing those who use his speeches without permission. But not always. When someone posted the entire “I Have a Dream” speech on YouTube, it stayed online, preceded by a Doritos ad.

Jennifer Jenkins, a copyright expert, says that’s probably YouTube’s Content ID system at work. Under that system, the holder of a copyright can block an unauthorized video, or collect the ad revenue from it. 

Click the media player above to hear more.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.