Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Deal could turn King’s words into songs
Estate makes contract with EMI for music, online media

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A music-publishing giant and one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s sons announced a deal Tuesday that they say will extend the reach of the civil-rights leaders’ speeches and other works to songs and online media.

The agreement between EMI Music Publishing and Atlanta-based Intellectual Properties Management means musicians of all types will be able incorporate to the slain minister’s words into their work, said Dylan Jones, EMI’s vice president of corporate communications. Intellectual Properties Management, or IPM, oversees licensing for The King Estate.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] The agreement, said Jones, also covers online and digital media, too. “I think that it will cross all genres and styles,” he said.

The deal should “increase The King Estate’s ability to preserve, perpetuate and protect the great legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Dexter King.

Dexter’s siblings, Martin Luther King III and Bernice King, said in a statement that they had no information about the deal. They have been in a months-long court battle with their brother to settle lawsuits over their parents’ estates.

One suit seeks to determine who controls the personal items of their mother, Coretta Scott King, who died in January 2006. That suit prompted the collapse last year of a $1.4 million book deal about their mother’s life. Another suit would force Dexter to open the books of their father’s estate.

The EMI agreement, said Jones, will mean money for The King Estate — but he wouldn’t say how much. “Anytime there is money being made, the estate is entitled to recompense,” he said.

The “big picture” means people will have greater access to King’s words, said Kendall Minter, a Stone Mountain lawyer who specializes in entertainment law. “What it does is, it gives the public more of an opportunity to get the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through different vehicles,” he said.

The deal, said Atlanta entertainment lawyer Monica Ewing, is “extraordinary.”

“I can’t imagine who the people are who will be using his speeches in music,” she said.

Some EMI artists are eager to use King’s words, said Jones, who declined to name specific performers.

“This,” he said, “is a very exciting time for us.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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