'We Shall Overcome' Verse Loses Copyright Protection

Law360, New York (September 9, 2017, 7:31 PM EDT) -- A New York federal judge ruled Friday that the lyrics and melody to the first verse of Pete Seeger's classic civil rights song "We Shall Overcome" aren't protected by copyright, finding the first verse of the 1960s Seeger version doesn't differ sufficiently from a 1948 public domain version to warrant protection.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote granted part of a motion for summary judgment to We Shall Overcome Foundation and the production company behind Lee Daniels' film 'The Butler,' which sued Ludlow Music and affiliate The Richmond Organization after having sought to use the song in their films.

In a 66-page...

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