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Iconic civil rights song 'We Shall Overcome' enters public domain

2018-01-31

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome," which has been quoted by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and was made popular by folk singer Pete Seeger, has been declared a part of public domain.

Ludlow Music, the song's publisher, agreed in a New York federal court last week to back down on claims of copyright after losing a summary judgment in the case. The publisher said in a stipulation filed last Friday that it waived the right to appeal the judge's opinion and agreed the melody and lyrics are "dedicated to the public domain."

The lawsuit was filed by the We Shall Overcome Foundation, a group that wanted to make a documentary about the song, and Butler Films, which produced the 2013 film "The Butler."

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