Can You Copyright a Dream? - Jonathan Band - POLITICO Magazine: Selma director Ava DuVernay may well have taken more license than artistically necessary in the confrontational scenes between Martin Luther King Jr. and President Johnson. But inaccuracies in other significant parts of the film were forced upon DuVernay by copyright law. The film’s numerous scenes of King delivering powerful speeches regarding civil rights all had to be paraphrased, because the MLK estate has already licensed the film rights in those speeches to DreamWorks and Warner Bros., for an MLK biopic Steven Spielberg is slated to produce.
The litigious MLK estate, controlled now by King’s descendants, has a long history of employing copyright to restrict the use of King’s speeches. The estate appears to have two objectives: maximize revenue and control King’s image.