MLK’s ‘I Have A Dream’ Speech Is Copyrighted, But For Good Reason

Aww, can’t find Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech in full anywhere online so you can share it on Facebook and Twitter for #DreamDay? There’s a reason for that, and it’s a good reason.

Dr. King’s speech, regarded by President Obama as one of the five greatest speeches in American history, is copyrighted. We can’t host a video of it here and you can’t host a video of it on your social media page because you presumably don’t have thousands of dollars in licensing fees (and we’re just too lazy to do the paperwork).

Because that’s how much it took for the only two media handles who plan on airing the speech today: CNN and MSNBC.

Now, you’d think that since it’s such an important hallmark in America’s history that it’d be free to use in the public domain, right? It’s true, and even HuffPo’s Jason Linkins conceded that it “feels a little wrong” that we do’t have free access, willy-nilly, to the epic speech.

But then Linkins raises a few interesting points. See, if the speech was available to you and me and our Facebook walls, it’d also be available to Democrats and Republicans who need to co-opt a universally beloved historical figure when election season comes around.

Additionally, Dr. King’s dream probably didn’t include his cornerstone speech being used to sell Tide (though his estate has made commercial exceptions before).

Those who violate this most sacred copyright generally pay out the nose for it, so that’s why you don’t see Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream speech” almost anywhere online. Except YouTube. I’d link you, but I don’t want to get in trouble.

[Image: Wikimedia Commons]

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