Artists Can Now Use MLK’s Words in Their Works

Published March 18, 2009

Rappers, songwriters and musicians will now be able to use the speeches and other writings of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in their works, thanks to a new agreement between EMI Music Publishing and Atlanta-based Intellectual Properties Management, which oversees licensing for the King Estate.

The deal also covers online and digital media, according to Dylan Jones, EMI’s vice president of corporate communications.

“I think that it will cross all genres and styles,” he said.

Dexter King, the slain civil rights leader’s youngest son and head of the estate said that the arrangement should “increase the King Estate’s ability to preserve, perpetuate and protect the great legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.”

But Dexter’s brother and sister, who have taken him to court over the handling of the King Estate, expressed no enthusiasm over the arrangement. In fact, the civil squabble already has squashed a $1.4 million book deal about their mother, Coretta Scott King, who died in January 2006. A pending suit would compel Dexter to open the books of their father’s estate, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. But, says Jones, everyone of the King children would benefit from the new agreement.

“Anytime there is money being made, the estate is entitled to recompense,” he said.

Many artists have been wanting to use King’s words; this allows that to happen, Kendall Minter, a Stone Mountain lawyer, told the Journal-Constitution.

“What it does is, it gives the public more of an opportunity to get the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through different vehicles,” he said.

Written by BET.com Staff

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