Friday, August 20, 2010

Using Famous Speeches at Website

Dear Rich: My company wants to post the Top 40 American speeches at our website. I've attached a list. I've researched them and all of them are reprinted in one form or another at other websites. Are we okay to post them as well?Wow, the Dear Rich Staff just gave a speech. We gave it to some crafts artists at the California Lawyers for the Arts  (where we plugged our crafts book) and it went really well. We love the CLA and you should too! It would have been a perfect evening except for the disappointing dinner at Greens.  Can't they get the linguini with zephyr squash right? And why was the rainbow chard and kale fumigated with garlic? And what's with the stiff white foam in the cappucino? (Blue Bottle, all is forgiven!) Oh well. Remember the good times!
Right, you had a question. We looked over your list of speeches and 35 of them should be fine to reprint either because they were prepared by an employee of the U.S. government within the course of employment, or because they are old enough to qualify for the public domain. But five of them (below) are either protected under copyright or copyright status is unclear. 

  • William Faulkner's Nobel Prize Speech (1950)
  • Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" (1963)
  • Malcolm X's "The Ballot or the Bullet" (1964)
  • Stokely Carmichael's "Black Power"(1966)
  • Mary Fisher's "A Whisper of Aids"(1992)
Here's the breakdown.
William Faulkner (above). William Faulkner's Nobel award "Banquet Speech" appears to be copyrighted by the Nobel Prize organization. (Our guess is that recipients assign copyright ownership.) Seek permission at
Martin Luther King. The MLK "I Have a Dream" speech is protected under copyright (there was a court challenge, later settled). Seek authorization from the Estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Intellectual Properties Management One Freedom Plaza 449 Auburn Avenue NE Atlanta, GA 30312 Fax: 404-526-8969.
Malcolm X. We're not clear on the copyright status of the "Ballot or the Bullet" speech. The official Malcolm X site has links to the estate's licensing agent. More information needed.
Stokely Carmichael. The copyright status of Carmichael's famous "Black Power" speech is unclear. Over at the American Rhetoric website, the speech has this copyright notice: "Text = Uncertain. A good faith effort was made to locate the copyright holder(s). Please contact if have information about the copyright holder(s). "
Mary Fisher. All signs indicate that Mary Fisher's groundbreaking speech to the Republican convention is still protected under copyright. You can contact her at her website.