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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Oh no, Ono!: Expelled (the film about the intelligent design guys) can still be shown

On Monday, John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono lost her attempt to prevent the distribution of Expelled because of an excerpt from Lennon's "Imagine." Ono is appealing, and doubtless, this high-profile case will impact other copyright issues. But here's some gen for now:

From the Associated Press:

NY judge: Film can use John Lennon song By TOM HAYS

[ ... ]

U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein ruled that if the case went to court, the filmmakers would probably win under the fair use doctrine.

"That doctrine provides that the fair use of a copyrighted work for the purposes of criticism and commentary is not an infringement of copyright," Stein wrote in his decision in Manhattan federal court.

[ ... ]

At a hearing last month, Falzone had argued that the segment of the song in the film — "nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too" — was central to the movie because "it represents the most popular and persuasive embodiment of this viewpoint that the world is better off without religion."

The film, he said, is "asking if John Lennon was right and it's concluding he was wrong."

Ono had countered by saying, "One of the most basic rights I control by reviewing and choosing licenses is the right to say `no.' The filmmakers simply looted me of the ability to do so."
Hmmm. It's a bit more complex than Ono is making out, because the right she is claiming undermines the opportunity to critique her late husband's work, which is NOT one of the purposes of intellectual property rights.

In fact, it's a bit like the Canadian "human rights" regime (which is why I no longer have a combox, unfortunately). If you want to know more about that, go here, but actually the worthwhile end of the Canadian blogosphere is lighting up across the board : Here, for example, are also
Jay Currie
Small Dead Animals
Mark Steyn
Free Mark Steyn
Five Feet of Fury

Back to our topic, from the BBC news: Ono loses Lennon song legal bid:

Ono, her son Sean Ono Lennon, and Julian Lennon - Lennon's son from his first marriage - had sought a preliminary injunction before the film gets a wider release.

But Mr Stein ruled that if the case went to court, the film-makers would probably win under laws allowing the use of copyrighted material for commentary or criticism.

[ ... ]

The film presents a sympathetic view of intelligent design - the theory that the universe is too complex to be explained by evolution alone.

It opened in the US in April and is set for release in Canada later this month and on DVD in October.

Note: Intelligent design does not say, strictly speaking, that the universe is too complex to be explained by evolution alone. Lots of things are very complex - like a pile of gravel, for example. A pile of gravel could evolve if someone dumped a bit more every day. What differentiates some types of complexity is that they seem to require intelligence. A good novel and life in the universe have more in common in that respect than a pile of gravel has with either of them.


Oh no, Yoko.

A federal judge unplugged a bid by John Lennon's widow to stop the producers of a movie disputing Darwin's theory of evolution from using a snippet of the former Beatle's iconic song "Imagine."

Yoko Ono, 75, sued the makers of "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," claiming the movie uses an excerpt of the song without her permission and wrongly suggests that she somehow authorized or sponsored the film.

But Manhattan federal Judge Sidney Stein found in favor of the film's producers, noting that the 15-second clip from "Imagine" is used for a "transformative purpose" that sets out to "criticize the song's message."

From The Press Association: Yoko loses Lennon's song court bid

Yoko Ono has lost her court case to block the use of John Lennon's song Imagine in a film challenging the theory of evolution.

Lennon's widow had sued the makers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, saying they used parts of the song without her permission.

Federal Judge Sidney Stein said the filmmakers were protected under the "fair use" doctrine, which permits small parts of a copyrighted work to be used without an author's permission under certain circumstances.
And at Uncommon Descent, Dave Scot writes,

Yoko Ono’s copyright infringement suit against the makers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed for using 15 seconds of the Lennon song Imagine was thrown out of court. Of course we all knew it was no more than a nuisance suit brought because Ono didn’t approve of the film’s negative view of the philosophy expressed in Imagine.
And here's the Fair use Project (who represented Expelled):

“This case is not just about fair use, it is about free speech,” explained Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project and lead counsel on the case. “The right to use portions of copyrighted works in order to criticize them and discuss the views they represent lies at the heart of the fair use doctrine because that right is essential to the free flow of ideas, thoughts, and debate.”
What's that? Right to criticize and discuss? A stake through the heart of Darwinism!

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