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Civil Rights versus Copyright

If people had stuck to the law, black people wouldn't have the right to use restaurants and hotels. If people had stuck to the law, women wouldn't have the right to vote. If people had stuck to the law, women wouldn't have the right to own property . . . Our country has a history of laws that we are very proud we have moved away from.

--Lawrence Guyot former leader of the
Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party

taken from  an article at WIRED News 

 Downhillbattle.org , with whom I am unaffiliated, is organizing  a campaign to digitally and illegally distribute  what is acknowledged by many to be one of the most important film documentaries of the American Civil Rights Movement, Henry Hampton’s  Eyes on the Prize . Expired copyright licenses have for over a decade prevented the distribution of this 14-part documentary, and while many of us are fortunate enough to have a copy of this work in our own libraries (I am one of those fortunates), many public and private libraries cannot make this work available to its patrons.

The ultimate goal of Downhillbattle.org’s distribution campaign of Eyes on the Prize is, of course, not about this documentary per se. The importance of this distribution campaign is to raise awareness of the fact that copyright law, largely in the hands of corporate media interest, conflicts in many areas with public interest and, for now, public interest ends up walking away with a big black eye.

On the week’s eve of  Black   History   month , I hope you find Downhillbattle.org’s distribution campaign interesting and important enough to spread the word to those of your acquaintances who are interested in the crisis of Civil Rights in the United States in the post-911 era, the increasing conflict between corporate media and public interest, and the continued distribution of a landmark documentary on the American Civil Rights Movement.