MLK Children Abusing IP Law (Again) To Try To Squeeze Money Out Of Anyone Who Honors Him

from the so-sad dept

We’ve discussed, in the past, the rather sad propensity of Martin Luther King Jr.’s estate to aggressively abuse copyright law to stop people from honoring the slain civil rights leader. The latest is that Stephen Spielberg has signed up to do a biopic of MLK Jr. Now, to film a biography, you don’t need any rights from the person or their heirs — but sometimes moviemakers still buy the unnecessary “rights” in order to have a closer working relationship with folks who have more knowledge or info about the person or events that are being filmed. That appears to be what happened here, where Dreamworks licensed the rights to make the movie — including “licensing” some of King’s famous speeches. However, some of Kings children are apparently threatening to sue over this, claiming they had no input in the deal and this is a violation of their intellectual property rights.

Of course, this also highlights a fun point for those who pitch the idea that copyright should last forever and descend to the heirs of the content creator. As the ownership gets spread out among younger generations, getting them to agree on anything will be quite unlikely. In any case, it’s a sad “legacy” the MLK estate is leaving here, concerning the overly aggressive “protection” of copyrights against those who clearly wish to honor the man’s own legacy.

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Comments on “MLK Children Abusing IP Law (Again) To Try To Squeeze Money Out Of Anyone Who Honors Him”

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35 Comments
Augustus Gloop says:

Oompa Loompa Song

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. A bratty child is still a brat if they are 5 years old or 50. I’d fully support Mr. Spielberg if he decided to just drop the entire production.

The most difficult part for me to comprehend is the idea that if the Estate had a collective IQ above an icechest, they would see that such a movie would give them numerous speaking opportunities. Benefactors of the MLK estate need to get back to the office and work and quit trying to cash in their Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket. But whatever.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Stereotypes

I hereby call for Mike to remove that post by “tack”. Not only did it have nothing to do with the topic, but it was hateful, unproductive, and otherwise uncalled-for.

As obnoxious as that post is, I’d rather we counter such bigotry with a response that shows bigotry for what it is. Simply deleting a bigot’s post only reinforces their ideas that they are right. I agree that the post is hateful and uncalled for, but I don’t believe in censorship. I believe in exposing bigotry for being bigotry.

As for tack’s original comment: just what “stereotype” are you talking about? The stereotype of MLK Jr. is that he was a brilliant man, a charismatic leader who, in the face of amazing danger helped lead and inspire an entire generation. What’s wrong with that?

I’m guessing, however, you mean a negative stereotype associated by race (though, for the life of me, I can’t think of any particular stereotype that anyone of any creed, color, religion, gender or race is “dumb about copyright law.”)

Having spent plenty of time discussing these issues, I can tell you that people on all sides of this issue seem to be pretty evenly distributed in terms of creed, color, religion, ethnicity gender or race — and to assume that any “type” of person is somehow more clueless about these issues makes you look so much worse than anything King’s heirs have done.

Being an ignorant bigot is no way to go through life.

Tgeigs says:

Re: Re: Re: Stereotypes

“As obnoxious as that post is, I’d rather we counter such bigotry with a response that shows bigotry for what it is. Simply deleting a bigot’s post only reinforces their ideas that they are right. I agree that the post is hateful and uncalled for, but I don’t believe in censorship. I believe in exposing bigotry for being bigotry.”

Wait a second, sir, who in the world says what Tact posted was bigotry? He said stereotypes don’t make themselves up and that can be true in a lot of ways. It’s a matter of interpretation. If his point is that African Americans are all lazy jackasses, well then yeah, he’s a bigot and an assclown to boot. But perhaps it was merely a comment on a systemic cultural problem that many African American communties have had for a long time, which is the instillation of a hardy work ethic and also the instillation that you can “rise above”. That seemse to have gone by the wayside in today’s poorer African American communities, being replaced by things like “the white man doesn’t like me”, “the ghetto is cool”, and “anything for this fast money, yo”. To pretend that doesn’t exist perpetuates the problem. Even the Prez has remarked in many of his speeches that the African American community has a serious problem within their ranks, mostly with the issue of fathers being responsible for their children.

“As for tack’s original comment: just what “stereotype” are you talking about? The stereotype of MLK Jr. is that he was a brilliant man, a charismatic leader who, in the face of amazing danger helped lead and inspire an entire generation. What’s wrong with that?”

Don’t play dumb just to counter phantom racism. Stereotypes are about groups, not one brilliant man (and he was ridiculously brilliant). You do a fine job of not impeding on free speech, but blanket mischaracterizations of what was said does NOT asist in the argument.

“Having spent plenty of time discussing these issues, I can tell you that people on all sides of this issue seem to be pretty evenly distributed in terms of creed, color, religion, ethnicity gender or race”

Agreed, that’s one of the reasons I like this site, and internet threads in general, because it can take things like racism, sexism, etc. out of the equation and focus on the issue. But pretending that varied systemic problems and issues don’t exist within just about every race, creed, color, religion, and gender doesn’t help.

I’ll be clear: racism is wrong, thinking that certain people don’t have equal capacity because of their race is just scientifically stupid. But pretending like there aren’t problems unique to race, religion, etc. is equally dumb. One stereotype is that African Americans today have an entitlement issue: slave reparations, affirmative action, welfare, etc. etc. There is a reason that overblown stereotype exists.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: claiming they had no input in the deal and this is a violation of their intellectual property rights.

the problem with copyright ending at death is the fact that people would be killed just because the publisher doesn’t want to pay royalties anymore.

think it wouldn’t happen? I’m not sure what world you live in.

walteranonymous says:

Re: Re: Re: claiming they had no input in the deal and this is a violation of their intellectual property rights.

Whoot! Black helicopter alert! And, they’ll chemically sterilize all your offspring, thus preventing future generations from collecting. Brilliant! So, tell us all, what color is the sky on the planet you seem to think you live on? Let me guess……polka dot? candy striped? Please, your adoring public (you know, the ones on thorazine and in restraints) want to know. BTW, Nursey says it’s time for your meds. Get thee hence!

Luc Boardwalk says:

That's different.

The linked article is the only one I’ve read on this matter. I don’t see where it says Bernice and MLK III are threatening legal action against the movie studio. The way I read it, they have a long-running dispute with their brother over his handling of the estate.

That’s different, don’t you think?

Overcast says:

I don’t see where it says Bernice and MLK III are threatening legal action against the movie studio

You have a point, if your brother sold your mom’s car (assuming he has power of attorney, etc) or something, you couldn’t very well sue the buyer of the car, assuming the title change and all was legal. Of course… you could sue your brother in a civil suit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I don’t know where the libertarian reference came from or why you believe them to be racist.

We’re discussing another thing: The fact that one of the most Acclaimed Movie Studios wants to create a production that honors Dr. MLK and apparently a deal was signed but outside influences believe they can pervert the process.

If you have followed the links to this story and do some additional research yourself on “MLK Legal Disputes” (Google is your friend in accomplishing this) you’ll see that the production is probably being held up by some internal family dispute, as Google indicates there seems to be a repetitive family history of these types of disputes.

Additionally, I can’t think of many other directors outside of Steven Spielberg, or Dreamworks that could accurately portray the story in a positive light that would also have the resources to make it work.

Again, it appears this is a family dispute that is best solved outside of our already over-taxed legal system. It’s quite sad that you believe this is a racial issue. Granted, I may be a white Libertarian Scandinavian, I also knocked on doors for Obama. Why? Because there was no drama.

I hate drama. Make drama, You’ll loose the support. That’s what I believe Mike is trying to say.

Spielberg should walk away until the family fucking grows up.

alphadog says:

“Entitlement”

I am so tired of that word. Everyone slings it now as a tool to belittle the opposing dialogue. It’s a powerful “strawman” word.

It started with the Right trying to look smart, but now everyone uses it. The Left has an overblown sense of entitlement. Apparently, Wall Street too, now. Unions do. The Catholic Church. Rich white kids. Poor black kids. Anyone left?

“Entitlement” is not a “new thing”. Also, it knows no demographic, creed, race, etc.

Can’t we just say what it really is: Basic greed?

NullOp says:

MLK

MLK children are just one of the reasons I am embarrassed about being a native Atlantian. Frankly, I believe everything of Dr. King’s should be seized and held by the court to keep these money-grubbers out of the picture.

A movie about Dr. King? Did they wait until they thought they had hit the right moment to extract money from as many bleeding-heart-liberals as possible. My advise to anyone considering a movie is to ditch it! You will not get it right even if you try. Those that were there remember it as they want to remember it.

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