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Expelled’s sampling a song can be fair use

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Expelled wins the next legal step.


Sampling a song can be fair use, rules US court

OUT-LAW News, 21/08/2008

The producers of a film defending the anti-evolutionary theories of Intelligent Design probably did not infringe copyright when they used a sample of John Lennon’s song Imagine in the film, a New York court has ruled.

Judge Richard B Lowe III ruled in the Supreme Court of the State of New York that “fair use is available as a defence in the context of sound recordings.” Past rulings outlawed the use of even very short music clips without copyright holders’ permission.

Premise Media Corporation and others produced Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a film which claimed that exponents of Intelligent Design theory are being unfairly criticised and censored for their association with it. . . .

The film producers argued that their use was transformative because it was criticism. By placing the clip where they did in the film they were criticising its stance that the world would be a happier, safer place without religion.

“This Court finds that [the producers’] use of John Lennon’s Imagine Recording is transformative,” said the ruling. “That the secondary work may have a commercial purpose does not undercut a finding of transformative use.”

See full article:

See: Decision and Order

CORRECTION: In my last comment, I erroneously stated, I felt that the federal judge’s final decision in favor of the defendants was so anticlimactic that I did not even report it on my blog. This final decision is reported at – https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/darwinism/yoko-ono-lawsuit-expelled/ There is no final decision yet in the federal court case -- I was misled by the above Uncommon Descent article and its linked press release, both dated July 17, which were just greatly overdue reports of the June 2 denial of the motion for a preliminary injunction. Larry Fafarman
I thought that this whole thing was essentially over when the federal judge denied the motion for a preliminary injunction. I felt that the federal judge's final decision in favor of the defendants was so anticlimactic that I did not even report it on my blog. This final decision is reported at -- https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/darwinism/yoko-ono-lawsuit-expelled/ Actually, because the US Constitution gives Congress jurisdiction over copyrights and interstate commerce, I question the authority of a state court to take any kind of action to enforce a copyright, including any action that applies just to a state. The name "supreme court" here is a misnomer -- this is a trial court of original jurisdiction. Yoko Ono & sons were plaintiffs in the federal suit but not the state suit -- here the plaintiffs are just Capitol Records and EMI records. I don't know if the federal court decision has been appealed -- one probably needs a PACER account to find out. Also, I wonder why the article did not mention the federal court suit. Also, the title of the article, "Sampling a song can be fair use, rules US court," is wrong -- it is a state court, not a US court. Also, I wonder if the opinion mentions the federal court suit (I haven't read the whole opinion yet and the pdf word-search feature didn't work). Questions, questions, questions. My blog has a total of 28 articles about the federal and state "Imagine" copyright suits under the following two post labels (I am limited to a maximum of 20 posts per label) -- http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/search/label/Yoko%20Ono%20lawsuit http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/search/label/Yoko%20Ono%20lawsuit%20%28new%20%231%29 There once was a lady named Yoko, who had a mind that was quite loco. When she tried to sue, she later did rue, 'cause the lawyers she faced were pro bono. Larry Fafarman
This strikes me as a fair ruling. The basic problem with Yoko Ono's/EMI's case is this: Lennon intended his song as an advertisement for the benefits of (materialist?) atheism. If a songwriter wishes to convey a Message like that, he opens himself to the possibility that others will respond to his Message, perhaps with criticism. And in a free society, that must be their right. If they do respond, they may need to quote him to ensure that his Message is conveyed fairly. There is a big difference between using a brief clip from Imagine in a way that correctly conveys its intended Message (and responds to it), and - say - using the persona of Elmer Fudd to sell a product or service. Had these cases gone otherwise, a way would be open for people to copyright their opinions in order to protect them from adverse comment. In the current age of libel tourism and attempts to get liberal democracies to pass laws against criticizing a religion (= Islam, of course), insecure people would be quick to try such a move. I am glad if the door is slammed on it. O'Leary
"Imagine ... no possessions ..." I guess that would kinda rain on the whole intellectual property thing, huh? Jon Graceout

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