Leading music publisher EMI struck a deal with the estate of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Tuesday (March 18) to bring the legendary civil rights leader’s words to music.
According to the Associated Press, EMI Music Publishing will use its copyright expertise to police the use of King’s name, image, likeness, recorded voice, both in recordings and music and in online and digital media.
The deal is the first time the company has taken on the licensing of a non-music based intellectual property catalog. Specifics of the deal were unknown at press time.
“Assuring that Dr. King’s words are accorded the same protection and same right for compensation as other copyrights works is a profound responsibility,” EMI Chairman and Chief Executive Roger Faxon said in a statement, “and we are proud of the confidence that the Estate has placed in us to fulfill that responsibility.”
The King camp said EMI was best positioned to “increase The King Estate’s ability to preserve, perpetuate and protect the great legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.”
In a statement, Martin Luther King III said he and his sister didn’t have any information about the deal.
According to the AP, Bernice and Martin Luther King III have been fighting their brother, Dexter, in court in recent months. The siblings have been entrenched in lawsuits involving their parents’ estates, including one attempting to force Dexter King to open the books of their father’s estate. In another, control of Coretta Scott King’s personal items is at stake — which include a $1.4 million book deal about their mother’s life that fell apart last year amid the legal wrangling.