Yoko sues Expelled filmmakers over Imagine | Entertainment | Reuters:

John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, and his sons are suing the filmmakers of “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” for using the song “Imagine” in the documentary without permission. ?

Yoko Ono, son, Sean Ono Lennon, and Julian Lennon, John Lennon’s son from his first marriage, along with privately held publisher EMI Blackwood Music Inc filed suit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan seeking to bar the filmmakers and their distributors from continuing to use “Imagine” in the movie.

They are also seeking unspecified damages.

For those of you keeping track, the producers of Expelled can now list “stupid,” “thieves” and “impoverished” among their many apt descriptions. “Sleazy” and “dishonest” were among the earlier entries.

Comments

  1. #1 Joe V.
    April 23, 2008

    To be parallel with the other descriptions, the adjective “thieving” might be better than the plural noun “thieves.” But yeah.

  2. #2 Coin
    April 23, 2008

    Well this is interesting. I’m curious, though, exactly how the song was used in the movie? I’ve heard it’s only about 20 seconds or so. IANAL but if the use was fleeting and intended satirically (‘imagine there’s no heaven’, etc… it would be an extremely lame joke but my understanding is the movie is full of those).

    The excesses of copyright law aside, though, it’s flabbergasting they apparently didn’t even ask about this. This seems to neatly encapsulate the general spirit of Expelled: Indignantly trying to hold science to literally impossible standards of evidence and deference, while simultaneously insisting no rules or standards of any kind (intellectual integrity, substance, copyright law etc) should have to apply to the filmmakers or their friends.

    Something I do wonder: If this lawsuit and/or any royalty payments that result from it wind up pushing up the operating cost of Expelled, does this mean that Chris Mooney will potentially have to retract his claims that Expelled was a financial success?

  3. #3 RBH
    April 23, 2008

    I am becoming more and more convinced that my conjecture that this is all a ploy to get sympathy.

  4. #4 Josh Rosenau
    April 23, 2008

    “Something I do wonder: If this lawsuit and/or any royalty payments that result from it wind up pushing up the operating cost of Expelled, does this mean that Chris Mooney will potentially have to retract his claims that Expelled was a financial success?”

    We can only hope. I think Chris is off-base about that anyway.

  5. #5 Larry Fafarman
    April 25, 2008

    Here is my blog’s take on the dispute:

    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2008/04/yoko-ono-sues-expelled-producers-over.html

    IMO Yoko Ono does not have much of a case.

    Coin said ( April 23, 2008 5:44 PM ) –

    The excesses of copyright law aside, though, it’s flabbergasting they apparently didn’t even ask about this.

    When the use is “fair use,” you don’t need to ask.

  6. #6 Josh Rosenau
    April 26, 2008

    Well, if Fafarman thinks Ono will lose, she’s sure to win.

    According to the Copyright Office, fair use is assessed based on:

    1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
    3. amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    Expelled is clearly commercial. The copyrighted work is clearly an original and artistic work and enjoys maximal protections. “Imagine” runs 3:04, so a 25 second excerpt would run around a seventh of the total work, which is pretty substantial.

    In music, the 4th test is met if the sample rises “to a level of legally cognizable appropriation.” A 25 second clip clearly meets that test.

    The song is used as background music, there’s no commentary or criticism involved, and if everyone did the same thing, it would indeed dilute the market for the song. Expelled is toast.

  7. #7 BW022
    April 26, 2008

    Expelled is toast.

    The big issue is that any lawsuit brings discover and depositions. That means Ms. Ono’s laywers get to dig through every discussion between Premise and the Discovery Institute, look for old film clips containing longer segments of the song, production notes about the length of the clip, the choice of music, clips showing say the XVIVO video in the movie prior to say Dembski getting slapped by Harvard/XVIVO in 2007, etc. They can call financial projections, meeting notes, production schedules, audio tracks, during various stages.

    Under oath, they can then ask producers about why they licensed other songs and music of short durations and not this one? Why they lied to the Kings in order to secure a license to their song? Ask about why they used the XVIVO clips from 2007, replaced them with their copies in 2008, and then said that they weren’t going to be in the film only after receiving the XVIVO letter? Or why they would spend hundreds of thousands making animation which wasn’t going to be used in the film? They can ask why they lied to Dawkins and Scott to gain interviews? Where the rights to use the PBS clip don’t come from?

    Besides that fact that judges and juries don’t like patterns of deceipt when your defense is that you are using it fairly. We already know about a pattern of deceipt, you have to know that the paper, audio, and video trail for it will be worse. It alone could spawn other lawsuits.

    Premise will settle this one ASAP just to avoid the discovery.

  8. #8 Voice in the Urbanness
    June 8, 2008

    Fafarman is carrying a one-sided debate on this over on his website. I call it one-sided in that he censors every post for which he has no answer. This has largely limited the debate to his sock puppets.

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