Tuesday, November 22, 2016

‘We Shall Overcome’ Copyright Case Moves Closer to Trial; New York Times, 11/21/16

Ben Sisario, New York Times; ‘We Shall Overcome’ Copyright Case Moves Closer to Trial:
"Along with the recent suits involving “Happy Birthday to You” and Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” the case has focused attention on one of the central questions in copyright: finding a balance between protecting intellectual property on behalf of private owners, and giving the public access to famous songs whose origins may be murky.
For “We Shall Overcome” and “This Land,” the issue is also freighted with politics at a time when the songs are being embraced by protesters and activists on multiple sides of major issues.
The suit over “We Shall Overcome” was filed in April on behalf of a nonprofit group called the We Shall Overcome Foundation, and later joined by the producers of the 2013 film “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” It argues that the song — which was adapted from a 19th-century black spiritual, although its origins may date back even further — should be declared part of the public domain."

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