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“We Shall Overcome”: E. Michael Harrington on Freeing a Civil Rights Song to Public Domain | Berklee

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In this animated short, part of Berklee Online’s Master Track series, course author Dr. E. Michael Harrington details his involvement in helping free the Civil Rights anthem “We Shall Overcome” into the public domain. Working as an expert witness for lawyers Mark Rifkin and Randall Newman, Dr. Harrington helped show that publishers Ludlow Music and the Richmond Organization should no longer be receiving royalties on a song that dates back to the 1780s, when Beethoven had originally written a harmony for it. The most popular recording of “We Shall Overcome” is probably Pete Seeger’s.

Art by Sonnye Lim
Animation by Eric Ko
Sound and music by Kyle Yerhot

About E. Michael Harrington:
Dr. E. Michael Harrington is a professor in music copyright and intellectual property matters. He has lectured at many law schools, organizations, and music conferences throughout North America, including Harvard Law, George Washington University Law, Hollywood Bar Association, Texas Bar, Minnesota Bar, Houston Law Center, Brooklyn Law, BC Law, Loyola Law, NYU, McGill, Eastman, Emory, the Experience Music Project, Future of Music Coalition, Pop Montreal, and others. He has worked as a consultant and expert witness in hundreds of music copyright matters including efforts to return “We Shall Overcome” and “This Land Is Your Land” to the public domain, and has worked with director Steven Spielberg, producer Mark Burnett, the Dixie Chicks, Steve Perry, Busta Rhymes, Samsung, Keith Urban, HBO, T-Pain, T. I., Snoop Dogg, Collin Raye, Tupac Shakur, Lady Gaga, George Clinton, Mariah Carey, and others. He sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Popular Culture, advisory board of the Future of Music Coalition and the Creators Freedom Project, and is a member of Leadership Music. Michael has been interviewed by the New York Times, CNN, Bloomberg Law, Wall Street Journal, Time, Huffington Post, Billboard, USA Today, Rolling Stone, Money Magazine, Investor’s Business Daily, People Magazine, Life Magazine, and Washington Post, in addition to BRAVO, PBS, ABC News, NBC’s “Today Show,” the Biography Channel, NPR, CBC and others. He teaches Music Business Capstone and Music Licensing courses at Berklee Online, and is the course author and instructor for Music Business Law, part of the curriculum for Berklee Online’s Master of Art in Music Business degree.

About Berklee Online:
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E. Michael Harrington | Ludwig van Beethoven | Pete Seeger | We Shall Overcome | Martin Luther King | Copyright Law | Public Domain | Mark Rifkin | Randall Newman | Ludlow Music | Richmond Organization | Master of Arts in Music Business | Graduate Program | Berklee | Berklee Online | Berklee College of Music

About
Berklee Online is the online extension school of Berklee College of Music, delivering access to Berklee’s acclaimed curriculum from anywhere in the world. Berklee Online's award-winning online courses, multi-course certificate programs, and Bachelor of Professional Studies degree are accredited and taught by the college's world-renowned faculty, providing lifelong learning opportunities to people interested in music and working in the music industry.
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