These unlicensed T-shirts are currently being sold on eBay.
The family of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. has a long tradition of protecting the image and peaceful message of Dr. King. Now that Barack Obama has been elected the first black president, it makes sense that artists and vendors would combine the two iconic figures in a symbolic way. What has the King family upset is that they often don't see a dime of the profits that result from using MLK Jr.'s likeness.
According to an AP report:
Isaac Newton Farris Jr., King's nephew and head of the nonprofit King Center in Atlanta, said the estate is entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing fees - maybe even millions.
"Some of this is probably putting food on people's plates. We're not trying to stop anybody from legitimately supporting themselves," he said, "but we cannot allow our brand to be abused."
But while Obama's election as the first black president may be the fulfillment of King's dream and could yield a big windfall for his estate, policing his image and actually collecting any fees could prove to be a legal nightmare because of the great proliferation of unauthorized King-Obama paraphernalia, much of it sold by street vendors.
Any proceeds from King-Obama merchandise would also go to the King Center.
What do you think? Should the vendors pay up? And should the family profit from the use of King's image?