"A documentary filmmaker, suing as the We Shall Overcome Foundation, filed a putative class action in April against Ludlow Music and the Richmond Organization, seeking a judgment that the song isn't copyrightable and that licensing fees collected for it must be returned. The lawsuit came after the filmmaker was denied a synch license to use an a cappella version of the song. In June, Lee Daniels' The Butler entered the fray, joining the suit because defendants had tried to charge $100,000 for use of the song in that film. Plaintiffs argue "We Shall Overcome" is an adaptation of an African-American spiritual which is virtually identical to a 1948 composition called "We Will Overcome," the copyright for which expired in 1976. Therefore, they argue, that's when the unofficial anthem of the civil rights movement became part of the public domain."
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Publisher Seeks to Overcome Copyright Suit Over Famous Civil Rights Song; Hollywood Reporter, 7/18/16
Ashley Cullins, Hollywood Reporter; Publisher Seeks to Overcome Copyright Suit Over Famous Civil Rights Song: