Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s speech ‘I Have a Dream’ is one of the most recognizable speeches in US history and it is covered by copyright protection. Dr. King registered the speech for copyright protection in 1963. This leads to the question, when can quotes from his famous speech or other copyright protected works be used in other books, blogs or websites without permission?
The answer to this question is vague, ambiguous and needs to be analyzed on a case by case basis. Generally speaking, it is possible to use limited portions of a copyright protected work for news reporting, commentary, criticism and scholarly reports under the fair use doctrine of the US copyright law. However, there are no legal rules permitting ‘free use’ of a certain number of words or percentage of a copyrighted work. Additionally, there are several factors that weigh heavily into the analysis: 1) the purpose and character of the use, 2) how much money will be made from the use, 3) the nature of the work, 4) the amount and substantiality of the portion used, and 5) the effect of the use on the potential market and value of the copyrighted work.
Unfortunately, there is not a clear rule regarding when and how much of a copyright protected work can be used without permission. Dr. King’s heirs have the legal right under copyright law to monetize the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech that they inherited and to treat it as commercial property. (The safest bet when quoting from copyright protected work is to seek, pay for, and get permission to use the material.)
Note, that crediting the source does not substitute getting permission to use or quote from the material.
Note 2, any work published in the US before 1923 is likely in the public domain and is FREE to use and quote from. (Copyright protection of these older works has likely expired).
For more information on Copyright and Dr. King’s speeches see this post –> http://wp.me/p10nNq-FD; for more information on using quotes from someone else see these other two posts –> http://t.co/rLurDnX and http://wp.me/p10nNq-fd AND for more information on PUBLIC DOMAIN works that are FREE to use and quote from —> http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm; http://wp.me/p10nNq-ft and http://wp.me/p10nNq-gn; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.