Eyes on the Prize Reminder

Just a quick reminder that PBS will be broadcasting Henry Hampton’s sweeping Civil Rights documentary, Eyes on the Prize starting Monday, October 2, at 9 PM, for the first time in over a decade (local listings may vary). The film had been unavailable on video and TV “because of expired copyright licenses,” including one poignant scene that featured a group of Martin Luther King, Jr’s freinds and supporters singing “Happy Birthday” to him (and, yes, “Happy Birthday” is copyrighted).

Also worth reading: The Washington Post had an article about a year ago about the long, difficult, and expensive task the filmmakers faced in re-acquiring copyright clearances for the documentary in perpetuity.

Update: Testing to see if the new location is working.


  1. Chris Said,

    October 1, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

    Great news. By odd coincidence, I’m screening an Eyes on the Prize episode in my class tomorrow. The irony is that I had a tough time obtaining an archival footage source I’m screening with it (NBC’s “Sit-In” White Paper).

  2. Chuck Said,

    October 1, 2006 @ 9:29 pm

    Funny, one of the main reasons I knew Eyes would be airing is that I’m leading a discussion of copyright in my freshman composition classes tomorrow and I mentioned that particular case as an important example. Interesting that you also had problems getting the other archival footage.

  3. david silver Said,

    October 3, 2006 @ 11:33 am

    i watched the first two episodes last night. i’m not sure how i’ve missed it over the years but i have. i was really blown away by last night’s portion: sweeping, depressing, and inspiring history.

  4. Chuck Said,

    October 3, 2006 @ 12:33 pm

    I saw most of the first episode but had to watch “Studio 60” for a short article I’m planning to write. I, too, was impressed by the sheer volume of information.

    I still think “Eyes” is the best example we have of how copyright law can negatively affect access to history. Many of the images and much of the music in “Eyes” is under copyright, making it difficult, if not impossible, to collect all of this material in a single, sweeping, ambitious historical record. From what I’ve heard, reacquiring copyright clearances for everything in the film cost well over half a million bucks. [End rant]

    I’ve only seen bits and pieces, so I’m going to try to watch as much of it as possible this time around.

  5. david silver Said,

    October 11, 2006 @ 2:41 pm

    chuck, did you catch the most recent episodes of eyes on the prize on PBS? it just gets better. episode 3 and 4 alternated between tear-jerking and awe-inspiring footage. in some ways, this documentary is about human courage.

  6. Chuck Said,

    October 12, 2006 @ 12:23 pm

    I missed it–I’m working on a short article on TV and the show I’m discussing aired at the same time as “Eyes.” I may sit down and try to watch the whole series on DVD when it’s available.

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