Judge allows copyright case on ‘We Shall Overcome’ to move forward, song may be in public domain

1 02 2017

On Monday, November 21st, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (S.D.N.Y.) issued a decision allowing a copyright case involving the well-known spiritual song and 20th century civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome” to go forward. At the center of this case is the question of whether or not “We Shall Overcome” is part of the public domain in the United States, and the recent decision by S.D.N.Y. Judge Denise Cote indicates that the song could in fact be public domain material. “Resolution of the issues of originality and ownership will require discovery and a more developed record,” Cote’s decision reads.


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