Expelled Busted

Things are happening exactly as I predicted…(Expelled! The Movie To Be Pulled From Theaters Following Myers/Dawkins-Gate Screwup)

The movie “Expelled!” with Ben Stein (you may have heard of it) includes a segment consisting of the animation of the inside workings of a cell. It is said to look a lot like a production that came out of Harvard and a private animation firm last year or so:

People who saw the clip used in Expelled! were beginning to think that the video Expelled! used was not the Harvard video because there were some differences. However, this remains unclear. My thinking on this was that it was the original video but somehow filtered through a process that may have rendered it a little different. Sort of like copying and pasting some text from a copyrighted source, changing the type face and font size, and declaring that it was different.

Well, the other shoe has dropped, the shit has hit the fan, the cows have come home to roost…

Peter Irons, the Attorney for XVIVO LLC has written the following letter to the producers of Expelled:

Re: Copyright infringement in “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”

Dear Mr. •••••:

This letter will constitute notice to you, as Chairman of Premise Media Corporation, of the copyright infringement by your corporation, and its subsidiary, Rampant Films, of material produced by XVIVO LLC, in which XVIVO holds a copyright.

It has come to our intention that Premise Media and Rampant Films has produced a film entitled “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” which is scheduled for commercial release and distribution on April 18, 2008. To our knowledge, this film includes a segment depicting biological cellular activity that was copied by computer-generated means from a video entitled “The Inner Life of a Cell.” XVIVO holds the copyright to all the models, processes, and depictions in this video, and has not authorized Premise Media or Rampant Films to make any use of this material.

We have obtained promotional material for the “Expelled” film, presented on a DVD, that clearly shows in the “cell segment” the virtually identical depiction of material from the “Inner Life” video. We particularly refer to the segment of the “Expelled” film purporting to show the “walking” models of kinesic activities in cellular mechanisms. The segments depicting these models in your film are clearly based upon, and copied from, material in the “Inner Life” video.

We have been advised by counsel that this segment in your film constitutes an actionable infringement of XVIVO’s intellectual property rights, as protected by federal statutes, including Section 106 of the Copyright Act, the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998. Each of these statutes provides for judicial enforcement of their provisions, with substantial civil penalties for their infringement.

We have also obtained legal advice that your copying, in virtually identical form, of material in the “inner Life” video clearly meets the legal test of “substantial similarity” between the copied work and our original work.

This letter will also serve as notice to you that XVIVO intends to vigorously and promptly pursue its legal remedies for your copyright infringement, unless and until Premise Media, Rampant Films, and their officers, employees, and agents comply with the following demands:

1. That Premise Media, Rampant Films, and its officers, employees, and agents remove the infringing segment from all copies of the “Expelled” film prior to its scheduled commercial release on or before April 18, 2008;

2. That all copies of the “Inner Life” video in your possession or under your control be returned to XVIVO;

3. That Premise Media notify XVIVO, on or before April 18, 2008, of its compliance with the above demands.

We have been advised, by a telephone conversation with Mellie Bracewell of Premise Media on April 8, 2008, that an e-mail transmission of this letter to her will be promptly forwarded to you. A hard copy of this letter, on XVIVO stationary, will also be sent to you today by express delivery.

We are sure that you will want to avoid legal action in this matter, and urge you to promptly notify us of your compliance with the above demands. You may do so by return e-mail, directed to david@••• or mike@•••, followed by a hard-copied letter indicating your compliance with the above demands.

Sincerely,

David Bolinsky
Partner and Medical Director
XVIVO LLC

Michael Astrachan
Partner and Creative Director
XVIVO LLC

Cc: Peter Irons, Esq.
Attorney at Law
2551 North Valley Road
Greenville CA 95947

[Provided by PZ Myers, Pharyngula]

Apparently, Expelled! producers have been canceling showings in various areas. Earlier cancellations were probably due to the PZ Myers Boot-Out, and one may hypothesize that later showings are being canceled as the lawyers huddle and try to figure out what to do next. The fact that the movie has achieved horrid reviews, including from right wing outlets such as Fox News may also be contributing to the derailment of this particular train.

Comments

  1. #1 Deacon Duncan
    April 10, 2008

    So in other words, the Expelled guys are going to get to claim that their movie was suppressed?

  2. #2 CleveDan
    April 10, 2008

    If you’ve got Mike Huckabee pimping your “science” movie……you can’t lose

  3. #3 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    April 10, 2008

    Maybe this thing will end up with a Reefer Madness second life after it disappears from theaters and church basemenst following the first weekend. Maybe this thing will devolve into a midnight movie cult classic of badness, with people memorizing stupid lines and talkng back to the screen and throwing toast.

    I can see a market for squid costumes and knitting needles.

  4. #4 Jeff Hebert
    April 10, 2008

    I can’t believe Peter Irons is so foolish as to hand the ID proponents a victory like this. The next time some atheist (or scientist, same difference) client comes to him wanting him to sue a creationist for stealing, Irons should just sit down, shut up, and let some other attorney handle it. Or better yet, not do anything, because “framing” the issue of theft like this is a victory for ID.

    I realize my mind works at such a higher level than everyone else’s that this sounds like idiocy to you, but if you just come over to my blog and give it lots of hits I’ll explain it all. Eventually.

    /channeling Nisbet

  5. #5 qetzal
    April 10, 2008

    So in other words, the Expelled guys are going to get to claim that their movie was suppressed?

    My thought exactly. If this does force them to delay or even cancel their release, they will claim it’s yet more persecution. Even if they decide to continue on schedule, they’ll still claim persecution if XVIVO follow through with it’s legal threats.

    One could almost wonder if this was a deliberate strategy on their part. That is, if one thought they had the intelligence to develop such a strategy.

    So no, I’m sure it’s just their incompetence, but I’m equally sure they’ll spin it as hard as they can.

  6. #6 MemeGene
    April 10, 2008

    But now they’re up against intellectual property and copyright infringement, which will put them at odds with the fiscal conservatives backing the ID agenda.

  7. #7 mark
    April 10, 2008

    Gee whiz…the York Daily Record just had an announcement for the film today, linking to the Expelled website.

  8. #8 Zach Miller
    April 10, 2008

    That’s awesome. What did they THINK was going to happen?

  9. #9 Christie
    April 10, 2008

    They may claim persecution, but I think that just like the cases they cite in the film (haven’t seen it, just reading about it for months like the rest) they will be shown to be merely dishonest, incompetent, and shrill. I see the point about it being considered a victory, but then they claim everything as a victory, don’t they? It hasn’t gained them much so far.

    @Mike Haubrich, what an awesome idea. I have a novelty glasses-and-rubber-nose set at home, I’ll go as Ben Stein! Thanks for the smile.

  10. #10 Caveat
    April 10, 2008

    Living up to their title ‘No Intelligence Allowed’ alright.

    Why didn’t they just get permission to use the work? Or use something else?

    It’s true though that having the opening stopped will make it look as though their film is scary stuff to all we bad atheists and that we wouldn’t be able to withstand or refute the blinding truth of it all.

    Kind of win-win and lose-lose at the same time.

    Still funny, though.

  11. #11 Caveat
    April 10, 2008

    Living up to their title ‘No Intelligence Allowed’ alright.

    Why didn’t they just get permission to use the work? Or use something else?

    It’s true though that having the opening stopped will make it look as though their film is scary stuff to all we bad atheists and that we wouldn’t be able to withstand or refute the blinding truth of it all.

    Kind of win/lose.

    Still funny, though.

  12. #12 Rev Matt
    April 10, 2008

    I disagree that they are stupid or ignorant. I think that’s a big mistake that progressives and secularists make when dealing with religious zealots. Delusional, misguided, and often mendacious, sure. But not stupid. I would not be the slightest bit surprised if this was all one big publicity stunt:

    Make a crappy movie attacking evolution with some names big enough to ensure media attention

    include material that your backers have already been notified is protected under copyright thus ensuring your movie will never be released

    enjoy massive publicity for initial screenings and then even more massive publicitiy for martyrdom.

    And all without the negatives of the general public ever being able to actually see the movie for themselves. It’s actually quite clever a plan.

  13. #13 Andrew
    April 11, 2008

    I somehow doubt that the makers of this film ever intended to say it was anything other than either a resounding success (A Deathblow To The Darwinian Fascist Regime!) or cruelly suppressed. Or both.

    These people aren’t in it for the truth, they’re in it for the money and controversy sells.

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