Monday, February 6, 2012

Occupy the public domain

By Professor Jennifer Rothman

This op-ed, which discussed the implications of the Supreme Court's decision in Golan v. Holder on the public domain, originally appeared in the Feb. 6, 2012 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.

If you celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day by watching the "I Have a Dream" speech on YouTube, you broke the law. Or at least that's what the Martin Luther King Jr. estate contends. It claims that if you want to legally watch a video of the Rev. King's copyrighted speech - one of the most important speeches in our country's history - you need to pay its foundation $10.

Instead of providing for sharing such important moments, our government has been complicit in endorsing a vision of copyright law in which nothing is free for use by the public. Recently, the same King foundation demanded that the federal government pay $800,000 to use King's words and image on the memorial statue of him in Washington, D.C. Rather than asserting the importance of this monument for our culture and its status as a public, nonprofit use of his name and words, the government caved.

Read the complete op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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