This case follows on from a previous one regarding the Happy Birthday song and shows clearly the abuse of copyright law by those pretending to own a copyright.https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160414/00285834177/can-lawyers-overcome-bogus-copyright-we-shall-overcome-free-it-to-public-domain.shtml
Representing a group calling itself the We Shall Overcome Foundation (WSOF), they are claiming that The Richmond Organization (TRO Inc.) and Ludlow Music are falsely claiming copyright over the famous civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome," because that song is in the public domain. The case has tremendous similarities to the Happy Birthday case. As in that case, the plaintiffs say they're making a documentary about the song. In this case, they sought a license for the song and were denied without explanation. TRO-Ludlow had first told WSOF that the song was "very difficult" to clear and they had to approve any use.
However, the plaintiffs note that the song (and, especially, the verse that was sung in the sample they submitted) matches a song that came from decades before the 1960 copyright filed by Ludlow.
The first known printed reference to “We Will Overcome,” in the February 1909 edition of the United Mine Workers Journal, refers to performances of that song in 1908 and much earlier. The front page of the February 1909 United Mine Workers Journal states: “Last year at a strike [in Alabama], we opened every meeting with a prayer, and singing that good old song, ‘We Will Overcome.”
The lawsuit, by the way, leaves out the fact that many argue the melody at least dates back to the 1700s and was even used by Beethoven in a hymn.
No doubt this copyright fraud will be stamped on but the real issue here is why are there not harsher penalties for those companies or corporations making obscene profits from the theft of other folks works that are now in the public domain ??