Stranger Fruit

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Regular readers will remember law professor Peter Irons for his epic legal takedown of Stuart Pivar. Well he’s gone and done it again and this time he has been involved with a letter from XVIVO correctly accusing Premise Media (makers of Expelled!) of copyright infringement. Here’s the gist:

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.

And as Brad notes:

The “canceled” screening in Tempe certainly had a knock off of the XVIVO video. It was longer than in any of the promotional material I’ve seen and nearly identical in content to Inner Life of a Cell. Sure the colors were changed and the inspirational music sound track was different, but there’s no mistaking where it came from.

Hah! Let’s see them get out of this. They lie and steal. What’s next? Murder?

Comments

  1. #1 Tyler DiPietro
    April 9, 2008

    I’d say that, at this point, they’ve hit the trifeca of dishonesty: lying (to get the interviews), cheating (keeping critics at bay during screenings, even if they were in the movie and credited for their contributions) and now stealing.

  2. #2 J-Dog
    April 9, 2008

    Tyler – POTW!

    ..”.they’ve hit the trifeca of dishonesty: lying (to get the interviews),

    cheating (keeping critics at bay during screenings, even if they were in the movie and credited for their contributions)

    and now stealing.”

    And now the real fun begins… Who’s gonna manage the pool of what they do:

    Ignore, Pull the film, or try to work a deal.

    Deal? Yes,… For One Billion Gadzillion Dollars! BWA HA HA HA HA!

  3. #3 John Lynch
    April 9, 2008

    As Jim Lippard states:

    It sounds like either “Expelled” will be slightly shorter on April 18, or will be contributing some of the box office gross to XVIVO.

  4. #4 "GrrlScientist"
    April 9, 2008

    i was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

  5. #5 John Lynch
    April 9, 2008

    @ Grrrl

    We’re practically at the Riverdance stage at the moment!

  6. #6 Science Avenger
    April 9, 2008

    So the purveyors of intelligent design can’t intelligently design their own film. There’s another irony meter down the drain.

  7. #7 Wicky
    April 9, 2008

    The stupid right-wing movie Fahrenhype 911 had extensive use of copyrighted music without payment as well.

    Unfortunately the RIAA doesn’t care nearly as much about chasing down the shell companies that were used to finance the picture as they were about the political blowback from the GOP

  8. #8 scote
    April 10, 2008

    I wouldn’t get too worked up about this. The Expelled producers may have copied the general sequence of the video but they created their own version from scratch using their own 3d models and rendering–they didn’t just literally copy the vid.

    There are plenty of facts one can really nail the Expelled producers on, this one is not the strongest. It is legal to make “similar” videos if you don’t copy exactly, so a judge or jury would have to make findings of fact as to whether the videos are too similar. So it isn’t a slam dunk. For instance, I could make a video called “Exposed” featuring a dried up hack interviewing creationists and it wouldn’t necessarily be copyright infringement, even if I shout my interviewees from the same angles.

  9. #9 Tyler DiPietro
    April 10, 2008

    Scote, you already recieved answers on that in the Pharyngula thread. What is copyrighted is XVIVO’s novel and non-obvious depiction of scientific facts in the video, something “Expelled” clearly copied. The kinesin is not really a manlike molecule dragging other, larger molecules along a microtubule like a Pikmin. That’s XVIVO’s original idea. (Also of note is that, apparently, the depiction itself is inaccurate as it portrays a stochastic process as being a deterministic one. The most surfire way to detect a ripoff is to see whether it also copies the errors original to another work).

  10. #10 heyzeuscreasetoe
    April 10, 2008

    I really wonder if the makers of the film see the illegal and unethical things that they are doing and have done during the making and promotion of this film as perfectly acceptable as long as the ends justify the means. I would love to know if they can see the irony and hypocrisy of their actions and merely try to rationalize it or if they are truly blind to what they have done.

  11. #11 MTran
    April 10, 2008

    scote, you’ve spouted your uninformed nonsense at Pharyngula, now you are here doing it again.

    It sounds as if you once read a brief article about copyright and now believe you know the law. You don’t. Apparently, you don’t understand the science or the art behind the XVIVO sequence, either. So cut it out before you make a bigger fool of yourself. Unless, that is, you aspire to being a troll.

  12. #12 Raiko
    April 10, 2008

    Scote, please go and read the letter the Expelled people received on the matter. I am sure you can take a moment to load the PDF. It tells you exactly why this is, in fact, copyright infringement.

  13. #14 Hank Roberts
    April 10, 2008

    Better hope this doesn’t get to the Supremes til after the nitwits are out of office though. They’re doing the imperial presidency under gawd pose to the extent they could …. well, you’ve read Revolt in 2100, right?

    Nehemiah Scudder isn’t far off.