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.