Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CULT of PERSONALITY - EMI gets the rights to MLK

You can't buy freedom. Or dedication to a cause. And you can't buy personal belief. But - evidently you can buy its voice. We just learned that EMI Publishing signed a deal worth an undisclosed amount allowing them the sole rights to license Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches for the use of sampling in music. Buying & Selling the words of MLK Jr. - think about it...

CAN THEY EVEN DO THAT? We uncovered a few more important details in Performer Magazine (linked in our toolbar) - including the fact that MLK Jr.'s children are currently embroiled in a lingering legal battle to see who will control King's estate. Intellectual Properties Management, the Atlanta company that represents the current Estate leadership - reached agreement with EMI (they're the global label that's close friends these days with Hot Chip and hates Radiohead's fucking guts...) This is a for-profit deal - costing EMI a fortune.

Expect two things: Somebody in the music industry with deep pockets will begin sampling the icon soon - and that anyone who has "informally" been using MLK samples can expect C&D letters and/or lawsuits very very soon. People don't spend that much money without planning to protect their investment. This leads to legal implications and use restrictions... And, of course, raises questions and concerns about censorship. (Whatever happened to fair use?) I ask this pointed question: Does the MLK estate even own the rights to these legendary public deliveries? We will be watching with a raised eyebrow. Below is, "I Have a Dream."

We got a little diverted the last few days on the site (we intended this to be New Music Week) - but I think you will agree that the diversion has been at least as good as the intended upon journey - which still lays ahead. Tune back in soon.


Billy said...

What's going to happen with G&R's Chinese Democracy, Madagascar, that samples I Have A Dream?

Ryan said...

Good point. I personally think EMI will go backwards and retroactively ask these people for money. It's something, I am sure, the MLK Jr. Estate would have had the rights to do - and now those rights and the enforcement ability that comes along with them, belong to EMI. I would be very surprised if they didn't send a bill or a "request to settle this out-of-court" to a number of sampling musicians.