Activists celebrate #InternetFreedomDay, post "I Have a Dream" in defiance of copyright law

MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech is copyrighted. Share it anyway. from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws."

Today, the Internet activist group Fight For the Future is doing just that, and simultaneously celebrating King's legacy, by posting this entirely unabridged version of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech to Vimeo, an act that is technically illegal.

Dr. King’s speech is copyrighted until 2038, and all footage of the speech is managed by EMI, who have removed several versions of the video from YouTube in the past.

In addition to this being the start of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, one year ago today marked the historic defeat of internet censorship bills SOPA and PIPA. This network of activists are declaring today "Internet Freedom Day".

King's speech "is as relevant today as it was in 1963," says the video, which the group calls "a small act of civil disobedience."

"To honor his legacy as a freedom fighter, we're asking everyone to share this full video of his historic speech," it continues. "But 'I Have a Dream' is copyrighted, so sharing it is illegal. If SOPA had passed you could have gone to jail for it. And entire websites could have been shut down just for linking to it. King's call for racial justice is too important to be censored by broken copyright laws."

“There’s something bigger we’re talking about here, which is how important knowledge and learning about the world is to social justice, and the things that King fought for,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, one of Fight for the Future’s co-directors. “We want to make sure everyone gets a chance to see his speech. It’s important as we celebrate and remember him. By sharing it, and making sure the current absurd copyright laws don’t keep it anyone from someone seeing it."


Fight For the Future is an organization founded in 2011 that fights for a free and open Internet through viral organizing such as the Internet Defense League. They led the fight against SOPA last year.

“Our organization works to activate the Internet for the public good," said Cheng. Sharing our history, sharing knowledge, and making sure everyone has access to our country’s greatest treasures is exactly what we fight for. As the internet becomes a larger part of our lives, there are some basic rights and freedoms we need to make sure we have in this new sphere we operate in.”

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