In the face of a coordinated campaign of public and private intimidation that included the bombing of King’s own home, Montgomery’s black citizens sustained their boycott for over a year. Their determination paid off in late 1956, when the . Supreme Court ruled that the bus segregation statutes were unconstitutional. The victory in Montgomery sparked further civil rights protests and elevated King to a position of national prominence. In early 1957, he joined with other southern ministers to form a regional civil rights organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which elected him its first president.
Because King's speech was broadcast to a large radio and television audience, there was controversy about its copyright status. If the performance of the speech constituted "general publication", it would have entered the public domain due to King's failure to register the speech with the Register of Copyrights . However, if the performance only constituted "limited publication", King retained common law copyright . This led to a lawsuit, Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., Inc. v. CBS, Inc. , which established that the King estate does hold copyright over the speech and had standing to sue ; the parties then settled. Unlicensed use of the speech or a part of it can still be lawful in some circumstances, especially in jurisdictions under doctrines such as fair use or fair dealing . Under the applicable copyright laws, the speech will remain under copyright in the United States until 70 years after King's death, therefore until 2038.