MY NOTES: Business Organizations | Constitutional Law I | Copyright Law | Evidence | Wills and Trusts

Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr. v. CBS, Inc., 13 F. Supp. 2d 1347 (1998) p.389


formalities - notice


A documentary was made that included part of Dr. MLK's I have a dream speech. The estate brought an infringment suit. The speech was published without notice.



Whether the public delivery of the speech along with the advance text tothe press and the printing of the speech in the newsletter, constituted a general publication of the speech so as to place it in the public domain.



The notice was invalid.


The plaintiff must prove two elements: ownership of the copyright by the plaintiff; copying of the work by the defendant. Dr. King's speech almost epitomizes the definition of a general publication. It could be the poster child for general publications. Since the speech was handed out without the formalities it lost its copyright protections.


The fact that giving the speech and performing it did NOT constitute publication. It was handing out the copies, publishing it without copyright notice was the reason there was not notice.
NOTE: Had the speech been given after 1978 it would be a different situation because after 1978 copyright law is not limited to published works.

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