Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Fight to Make Two Classic Songs Copyright Free to You and Me; New York Times, 7/12/16

Ben Sisario, New York Times; A Fight to Make Two Classic Songs Copyright Free to You and Me:
"Legal experts say that such cases show the difficulties in determining the proper limits of copyright, which is meant to encourage creators by giving them limited monopolies over their works. Yet the terms have gradually increased with the lobbying of corporate owners.
“We can respect the rights of creators, but creators are often in the position of building on other works, and there has to be freedom for that, too,” said James Boyle, a Duke University law professor and the author of “The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind.”
As an example of art that builds freely on pre-existing work, Professor Boyle pointed to the tradition of folk music — exactly the realm from which “This Land” and “We Shall Overcome” grew.
The tension is heightened when it comes to material considered essential heritage. The family of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has used copyright to prevent his “I Have a Dream” speech — delivered at the March on Washington in 1963, where “We Shall Overcome” was most famously performed — from appearing in documentaries. Yet they also once allowed it to be used in a cellphone commercial."

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