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That Good Old Song: Suit Argues 'We Shall Overcome' Belongs To Us All


That Good Old Song: Suit Argues 'We Shall Overcome' Belongs To Us All

A class-action lawsuit by the non-profit We Shall Overcome Foundation seeks to free from copyright and place in the public domain the classic, searing anthem of the Civil Rights Movement that sustained so many through teargas, on marches, in jail cells - and still does. The suit traces the song's labyrinthian history - Black hymn to tobacco workers' vow to Seeger ode - before asking who owns its power and arguing, "You do, I do, we do."


The links in the article need to be fixed! Until then, here's the We Shall Overcome Foundation page explaining the lawsuit.


B-b-b-but... without strong Intellectual Property Rights, all human creativity would come to a screeching halt. Humans only create anything because of their lust for riches and power!


Thanks for adding the link.

This whole story reminds me of Monsanto patenting natural seed. The song is so clearly in the public domain, it really takes chutzpah to sue for its use, especially considering its history of creation.


I'd like to sign a petition to replace the Star Spangled Banner military call to arms with We Shall Overcome as the US National Anthem. We Shall Overcome is far more musical in structure and easier to sing. I frankly am sick and tired of hearing the SSB and singers trying to make music out of an asinine concept.


Guy Carawan and Zilphia Horton were active founders of the Highlander Foundation, one of the most honored and honorable arts and activism centers in the American mid-South. Rosa Parks and MLK attended sessions there, where the song underwent its transformation from hymn to labor activism to civil rights activism. I had always assumed that some portion of the royalties went to support the incredible work of Highlander. I have no doubt that Richmond may be keeping more than their share, but I would hate to see any funding eliminated that helped to further the work of this historic center.


Also: Look at the moving tribute to Guy by Peter Dreier on the Common Dreams website.